Eskom making strides on road to recovery – De Ruyter 

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Andre de Ruyter, chief executive of state-owned power utility Eskom, speaks during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan. 31, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Despite facing “less than ideal circumstances,” Eskom is making good strides towards sustainability and energy security.

These were the words of Eskom Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter during a media briefing on the state of South Africa’s electricity system.

The country has not faced load shedding since mid-November last year.

Unplanned outages, which have previously wreaked havoc on the electricity supply, currently stand at about 9392MW.

“This is the lowest that it’s been in a very, very long time and that’s a very positive reflection on the performance of our system. I think we are starting to see the results of the intervention of [power station managers] as a leadership team,” he said on Thursday.

Planned outages owing to maintenance currently stand at about 7146MW which, De Ruyter said, are equal to just under 15% of the total installed electricity capacity.

He said the move is to aggressively carry out maintenance on power stations to ensure better reliability in the future.

“These numbers demonstrate our commitment to continue to carry out our maintenance…in accordance with our reliability maintenance recovery programme and it demonstrates that we are absolutely firm in our resolve to return our generating system to long term predictability and reliability.”

Last week, the energy giant announced that it will be taking unit two of the Koeberg nuclear power station offline for refuelling and maintenance which may take up to at least five months.

De Ruyter revealed that following this, Koeberg Unit 1 will also be taken offline and this could have further impact on Eskom’s ability to keep load shedding at bay.

“The system will be constrained by that reduced contribution of our most competitive and also our most reliable plant. That means that there is still a risk of load shedding that remains in the system. Therefore we wish to…urge South Africans to use electricity wisely and sparingly, bearing in mind that it is up to us as a collective to manage the current capacity constraint that we find ourselves in,” he said.

Despite two Koeberg units undergoing planned maintenance this year, Koeberg Unit 4 is expected to be brought to full commercial operation by July this year and will add at least 800MW to the grid.

Protecting infrastructure

De Ruyter said steps are being taken to protect Eskom assets from acts of “sabotage” after several incidents ranging from vandalism to explosions rocked several power stations.

These incidents resulted in a severely constrained power system and increased days of load shedding.

“We have employed 450 additional security guards. We have deployed drones equipped with infrared cameras to be able to operate at night, as well as installed intelligent cameras that will be able to detect untoward behaviour at our facilities and alert [the] control room so that we can alert security teams to respond.

“It’s still early days but it really seems to ensure that we are able to protect our assets through both overt and covert intelligence gathering and surveillance to ensure that those who, for whatever reason, wish to cause damage to our infrastructure are prevented from doing so,” he said.

Turning to another incident, de Ruyter explained that an investigation into an explosion at Medupi power station, which occurred in August 2021, is nearing completion.

He revealed that the explosion caused damages which will cost an estimated R2.5 billion to repair and the unit is only expected to return to service in August 2024.

“There appears to have been non-compliance with procedures [from officials]. Appropriate action will be taken against those following due process.

“The asset is insured and we are currently in discussions with our insurance to ascertain exactly who will pay for what and to what extent we will be able to recover the cost to repair this facility. This means that we have 720MW that we don’t have available which further puts a constraint on the system,” he said. – SAnews.

An Eskom logo is seen at the entrance of their head offices in Sunninghill, Sandton, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
An Eskom logo is seen at the entrance of their head offices in Sunninghill, Sandton, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko


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