Carol Paton Writer at Large

Eskom would be unable to meet the electricity needs of the country over the next five years unless it could improve the performance of its plants, the company said in response to questions on Tuesday. To meet the projected demand for electricity, Eskom needs an average of 75% of its plants available to dispatch electricity over a year. This is called the energy availability factor (EAF). However, plants can be out of service due to planned maintenance or unplanned outages. The EAF for the year so far is 73% — a significant decline on 2017’s 79% — and has fallen alarmingly in recent weeks to below 70%. The trend indicates that the average for the year is likely to fall further. The trend has energy experts concerned, fearing a return to earlier years when Eskom was unable to meet demand and resorted to load shedding to avoid crashing the system. Engineer and publisher Chris Yelland said that while there was generally a decline in EAF going into summer as more units were taken down fo...

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