Permanent end to load-shedding is near – Eskom chairman

Eskom’s board sees light at the end of the tunnel. It is confident that the permanent end of load-shedding is near, with the utility’s performance stabilising and gradually improving. 

This is feedback from Eskom chairman Mteto Nyati, who told Newzroom Afrika that despite what others may think, the utility is being turned around. 

Nyati’s comments come in response to scepticism about whether the lack of load-shedding South Africa has experienced over the past months is sustainable. 

“This hurts. This hurts a lot because we have a responsibility to look after this entity. Many of these board members never wanted to be on this board but were convinced to come and help to turn this business around,” Nyati said. 

“So, to be hearing things like this. It is not something that sits well with us.” 

“None of us would be part of any ploy to do anything like that and play political games. It is very important that we establish credibility for this entity,” he said.

Nyati explained that the lack of recent load-shedding is due to improved performance at Eskom, which is driven by better plant maintenance. 

Extensive maintenance has been conducted at Eskom’s coal-fired power plants, which has made them more reliable and enabled the utility to reduce load-shedding. 

The utility had been plagued in the past with poor maintenance, which resulted in units tripping soon after their return to service. This made Eskom’s generation fleet unreliable and caused wild swings between load-shedding stages. 

“It is only a few weeks until the elections, and we are going to hit that and continue to have no load-shedding. What are you going to say then? It is going to be yet another conspiracy theory,” Nyati said. 

“What is important is that our people at Eskom have done what many people thought they could not do. Many people thought this was a dead horse, and this horse now appears to be running.” 

As a result of this work, Nyati said that load-shedding will soon become a thing of the past. 

“We can see light at the end of the tunnel, and we are confident, with the team we have, that the end of load-shedding is near.”

Eskom’s latest performance data shows a dramatic reduction in its unplanned breakdowns. 

Energy analyst Chris Yelland highlighted that Eskom’s Unplanned Capactiy Loss Factor (UCLF) dropped by five percentage points — from 30.56% to 25.56% — over the last week.

The decline was unexpected as unplanned breakdowns hovered around 30% for the first 17 weeks of 2024.

The big decline in unplanned breakdowns caused the week-on-week energy availability factor (EAF) to rise sharply from 58.60% to 62.08%.

What is particularly impressive is that Eskom’s EAF showed a big improvement despite an increase in planned maintenance outages (PCLF) from 10.47% to 12.01%.

Eskom’s improved performance aligns with comments from electricity minister Kgosientsho “Sputla” Ramokgopa and Eskom chair Nyati.

Two weeks ago, Ramokgopa revealed that Eskom had achieved a daily energy availability factor (EAF) of over 65%.

“This milestone validates the viability of the Eskom fleet of generation units and signifies the most efficient path to ending load shedding,” he said.

Ramokgopa added that, given this performance’s proven success, the focus now shifts to maintaining and enhancing it.

Nyati explained that the improved performance resulted from a plan for Eskom put together 18 months ago.

“The plan was developed with management, presented to the Eskom board, and approved in March 2023,” he said.

The plan focused on accelerating and executing planned maintenance. Eskom partnered with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to do this maintenance.

“When we take a plant down, we work with people with deep expertise about the equipment used at that plant,” Nyati said.

Eskom’s improved EAF in 2024 is shown by the green line in the graph below.


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