South Africa

Eskom breakdown disaster

Power plant breakdowns at South Africa’s state power utility are at the highest in at least a year, affecting two-fifths of generation capacity and exacerbating outages that are hindering economic growth.

Eskom said on Wednesday it had imposed power cuts of 6,000 megawatts, or about a fifth of demand because breakdowns have taken 19,052 megawatts of generation capacity out of action.

That’s the highest since at least this time in 2021, according to calculations by Bloomberg News. Eskom’s media desk and a spokesman didn’t respond to queries as to whether the breakdowns are at a record.

The breakdowns across a number of Eskom’s 14 coal-fired power plants come at a bad time. An additional 4,984 megawatts are out due to maintenance, and one of the two units at the continent’s sole nuclear power plant is shut down for refuelling on Wednesday.

Eskom has subjected South Africa to its worst power cuts this year since it regularly started intermittent outages in 2008 as it struggled to meet demand from its fleet of poorly maintained coal-fired power plants. Currently, residential areas can expect at least six hours of outages a day.

Eskom said that outages would be reduced to 5,000 megawatts at 5 a.m. local time on Friday.

According to Bloomberg News’ calculations, Wednesday marks the 38th consecutive day of outages and the 181st day of rolling blackouts this year.

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