How much diesel Eskom really burns to stop load-shedding


Over the last two months, Eskom spent 77% less on diesel than last year to fuel open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) and prevent load-shedding.

Eskom has been able to suspend load-shedding for 72 consecutive days, the longest rolling-backout-free period since December 2021.

The power utility said it was due to further incremental improvements in the reliability of the generation fleet.

The improvements resulted from Eskom’s successful Generation Operational Recovery Plan implemented in March 2023.

A year ago, it was unthinkable that South Africa could see over two months without load-shedding.

It was so unexpected that many people speculated that it was an election ploy orchestrated by the ruling party.

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter added fuel to the fire, saying, “If the lights are on, well done. However, they are on because we are pouring money into diesel at a rate of knots.”

Eskom chairman Mteto Nyati dismissed it as a conspiracy theory, saying the board was not driving the agenda of any political party.

Nyati credited Eskom’s improved maintenance plan, which focuses on accelerating and executing planned maintenance.

He added that the period after the 2024 national elections would show that the load-shedding reprieve had nothing to do with politics.

Nyati was proven right. It is now more than a week after the election, and Eskom has been able to keep the lights on without any interruptions.

What is particularly impressive is that Eskom has not really used its OCGTs since the beginning of June.

From 1 June to 6 June 2024, Eskom spent only R150 million on running OCGTs, producing 21.89 GWh.

Between 1 April 2024 and 6 June 2024, Eskom spent R1.71 billion on OCGTs. This is 77% less than from 1 April 2023 to 6 June 2023.

“The OCGT load factor for 1 May to 31 May 2024 continued to be much less at 2.27% compared to last year’s figure of 28.22% over the same period,” Eskom said.

The latest data debunked speculation that Eskom was burning diesel to keep load-shedding at bay.

Eskom’s improved performance

Eskom’s latest data showed that its unplanned capacity loss factor (UCLF) decreased to 28.0% in the financial year to date.

Unplanned capacity loss factor is another way to say unexpected breakdowns, which is why South Africa has load shedding.

Eskom’s latest UCLF represents a reduction from 35.7% recorded in the same period last year. It is an 8% year-on-year improvement.

The improved generation reliability has helped Eskom to increase the energy availability factor for the year-to-date to 61.1%.

This is a significant 8% improvement compared to the same period last year when the EAF was 53.2%.

The weekly EAF has moved from 57.0% at the beginning of the financial year to 63.8% from 1 April to 6 June 2024.

The EAF improvement is primarily due to a drop in the unplanned outages of the generation units, which averaged 12,700 MW in May 2024.

Further good news is that 3,020 MW of generating capacity is planned to be returned to service by Monday, 10 June 2024.

“Our generation performance continues to surpass this year’s winter forecast. The current unplanned outage average is 11,300 MW, which is 3,000 MW less than anticipated,” it said.


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