A corrupt tender awarded to Hitachi Power Africa to provide Medupi and Kusile with boiler units is to blame for the current severity of load-shedding, Andre de Ruyter said in his explosive interview with eNCA’s Annika Larson.
He said it would soon become apparent that there was “substantial manipulation of design criteria” to ensure Hitachi won the R38 billion boiler unit tender.
The boiler units were not fit for their purpose at the power stations as the exhaust gas temperature from the boiler supplied by Hitachi was too high.
This contributed to the collapse of a flue duct at Kusile, which resulted in three operating units being taken offline.
Sunday Times reported that the collapse of the critical component occurred because Eskom managers ordered a unit of Kusile to run at full capacity even though engineers warned them not to.
The report could not name who provided the instruction to run the unit at full capacity despite the risk.
“If the contract had initially been awarded correctly, without corruption, we would not have had the severity of load-shedding that we have right now,” De Ruyter said.
“That still is hugely problematic for us in terms of design defects that are the direct result of the corrupt award of the boiler contract – and we are still battling with that.”
Hitachi was in a joint venture with Chancellor House, the investment arm of the ANC. This collaboration benefitted the ANC directly, according to News24.
Kusile and Medupi have design capacities of 4,800MW, with six 800MW generating units each.
Had both power plants been finished on time and their units all been generating electricity like they were supposed to, they would mitigate six to eight stages of load-shedding.
Plan to fail
“We find ourselves in the present predicament because, in the past, we spent inadequate time talking about the future,” De Ruyter said.
Eskom knew it needed more capacity in 1998 and warned the government to that effect – but nothing was done until 2007 when Medupi and Kusille were started. However, these projects were “fraught with corruption”, he said.
The Eskom generation fleet has deteriorated rapidly in the last few years, said Warrick Pierce, principal researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) energy centre.
Eskom’s generation fleet has steadily declined to a point where, in 2022, the fleet had an energy availability factor (EAF) of 58.1%. This is a decline from 78.7% in 2017.
According to Pierce, there was more load-shedding in December 2022 than any other full year on record.