Energy

Eskom EAF plummets to 50%

Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) for the last week of 2023 dropped to 50%. The EAF for the full 2023 calendar year has dropped to 54.71%, well below what Eskom aimed for.

The EAF shows the percentage of time the power station was available for use when it was needed. It is a core measure of performance for any power utility.

In January 2023, Eskom chair Mpho Makwana said they had embarked on a turnaround journey to improve plant performance and reduce load-shedding.

Makwana set targets of 60% EAF by 31 March 2023, 65% EAF by 31 March 2024, and 70% by 31 March 2025.

These targets formed the foundation of Eskom’s plan to meet the country’s electricity demand and end rolling blackouts.

Unless Eskom succeeds in increasing the reliability of its generation fleet, South Africa should expect many more years of load-shedding.

The latest data shared by energy analyst Chris Yelland showed that Eskom’s EAF is on a declining downward trend, which has been the case for the past five years.

Yelland said Eskom recently released its week-on-week EAF figures for weeks 51 and 52 of 2023, completing the 2023 calendar year graph.

“Unfortunately, the EAF for week 52 of 2023 dropped back down to 50.00%, only slightly higher than the EAF for week 1 of 2023, of 49.10%,” he said.

The EAF for the 2023 calendar year has dropped to 54.71%, well below the 58.11% for the 2022 calendar year.

What is particularly concerning is that the latest figures are nowhere close to Eskom’s target of 65% in March 2024.

It confirms criticism that the Eskom’s board’s EAF targets were based on little else than what they wanted to see, without any concrete way to get there.

The 60%, 65%, and 70% EAF targets were, basically, randomly selected numbers that sounded good instead of meaning something.

The most telling thing is that there are no consequences for not reaching these targets. They are essentially meaningless.

The latest EAF numbers also proved that Yelland, who predicted it would be challenging to rapidly increase the performance, was right.

The EAF is based on the average performance of 90 generators in Eskom’s electricity generation fleet. “You cannot maintain or fix them simultaneously,” he said.

What this means, mathematically, is that the EAF is a continuum. There cannot be a discontinuity – also known as a step change – in the EAF trend.

“To increase Eskom’s EAF, there must first be a slowdown. It then has to bottom out, stabilise, and start to rise. This process will take several years,” he said.

Eskom’s EAF data for 2023 confirmed that Eskom’s targets were misguided – and it is only getting worse.

It is nearly impossible for Eskom to reach the 65% EAF target by March 2024, meaning load-shedding will likely continue for years to come.

Eskom energy availability factor

The chart below, courtesy of Yelland and EE Business Intelligence, shows Eskom’s EAF for the 2023 calendar year.

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