Professor Mark Swilling said Eskom’s 75% energy availability target is out of reach and that South Africans should prepare for continued load-shedding.
Swilling is the programme coordinator of the sustainable development programme in the school of public leadership at Stellenbosch University.
Speaking to Newzroom Africa, he said the new Eskom board’s mandate to increase the energy availability factor (EAF) to 75% is unachievable.
Coal-fired power stations should achieve an EAF of around 80%, especially when they are new, like Medupi and Kusile.
Two power stations, Matimba and Lethabo, are performing at an EAF of over 80%, which shows that it can be done.
However, Eskom’s new and relatively new power stations are not performing at this level, dragging down the EAF.
These power stations have been poorly run and did not receive the necessary maintenance to perform well.
To rectify the situation, Swilling advises the government and Eskom to procure as much additional power as possible.
“It will take a lot to fix the power stations, and you cannot do it while they are operating. They must be taken offline and fixed properly,” he said.
“However, you cannot do it until you have alternative power to keep the lights on.”
The reality is that Eskom’s problems are far too significant to expect it to reach an energy availability factor of 75% anytime soon.
Swilling said a much better target for the Eskom board is to prevent the EAF from dropping below 60%. “That is the best we could hope for in the next two years,” he said.
“Tell people to be prepared for load-shedding and do what is necessary to cope with the power outages.”