On Sunday morning, shortly after 4 a.m., Eskom began stage 6 load shedding, infuriating South Africans and making them demand change.
Eskom hosted a media briefing on Sunday morning to discuss its plans to address the load shedding situation.
During the virtual briefing, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter stated that the system had been under pressure for the previous week, causing the firm to consume both fuel and its reserves.
“As mandated by the grid code, we are now in a position where we urgently need to refill those reserves in order to maintain an acceptable safety buffer. By this evening’s peak, we intend to bring back 1,590 MW, and by Monday night, another 3500 MW, according to De Ruyter.
The age and condition of the units, he added, will prevent all of the electricity from flowing properly onto the grid.
De Ruyter addressed the issue of liquidity by stating: “It is a truth that liquidity to buy diesel is a problem. We have already consumed R7.7 billion worth of diesel in the first five months of this fiscal year, which is roughly the budget for the entire year.
Calib Cassim, Eskom’s chief financial officer, reportedly made an additional R500 million available for the purchase of additional diesel.
The fact that Kriel unit 2 tripped this morning at 3.39am is what propelled us into stage 6. After consulting with the system operator and calling me shortly after, the chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer and I decided that stage 6 was regretfully inevitable by 4:19. Since that time, we’ve witnessed Kusile unit 3 recover from a submerged scraper chain failure. That’s been fixed now. As we speak, the unit is ramping up, according to De Ruyter, who also noted that the unit’s recovery can have a significant impact.
We have a problem at Koeberg unit 2 with the reactor head gear; this is a mechanical issue that we need to rectify in order to operate the plant safely. This is part of the reason why we have the generation capacity limits.
De Ruyter stated that he has not observed any signs of sabotage or any suspicious behaviour when asked about potential sabotage.
The actions Eskom will take
Minister Pravin Gordhan was present at an urgent board meeting for Eskom on Saturday. The meeting covered future actions that will be taken.
Eskom announced on Monday that it will approach the market to quickly buy any available megawatts. According to De Ruyter, the power company may obtain 1000MW from the available generation capacity. Not all of that will be available right now, according to De Ruyter.
Eskom had “very high degree of confidence” that it could acquire additional megawatts from IPPs.
Eskom has asked South Africans to use electricity as carefully as possible up till extra megawatts can be acquired.
De Ruyter has asked towns to determine which non-critical loads, such street lights, can be turned off during the day.
De Ruyter stated that in order to further assist in managing peaks, he will also be speaking with representatives of organized business.
He encouraged locals to turn off any unneeded lighting and swimming pool equipment during busy times.
“You could think that these are small efforts, but if 60 million South Africans play their part, we can get through this by also regulating our demand,” the speaker said.
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