Ramokgopa says new power units at Kusile ‘will be online in weeks’ to ease power cuts
Load-shedding was reduced to stage 4 from Sunday afternoon
There has been improvement in the replenishment of emergency reserves and the return to service of a number of generating units on Friday and Saturday, which has led to load-shedding being reduced to stage 4 from Sunday afternoon.
Work was also under way to bring to service two generating units from Kusile power station in the next few weeks to create a buffer against severe stages of load-shedding, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said on Sunday.
Briefing the media on the implementation of the energy action plan, Ramokgopa said the problem that led Eskom to implement stage 6 load-shedding on Friday started two weeks ago when the power utility lost a number of units and used emergency reserves while waiting for the units to come back on line.
“These units that were scheduled to come back were able to come back on time, but then we had more units failing, which meant we had to continue to run our emergency reserves.”
He said on November 13, emergency reserves of pumped storage and open cycle gas turbines were at levels below 70%.
“As we continued to deploy them, there was significant reduction in those reserves.”
He said the major issue was at Ankerlig power station where diesel has to be delivered by road.
“There was a significant dip on November 21. That dip in relation to emergency reserves coincided with us using the units. Once we reached critical levels, our primary preoccupation was to ensure we protect the grid and we took them out.”
He said Eskom was not using emergency reserves at the rate at which it had been engaging them.
“As we pulled them back, there were less megawatts available, and it meant we needed to intensify load-shedding.”
Ramokgopa said a significant improvement had been seen since implementing stage 6 load-shedding on Friday.
At Ankerlig, diesel volume was at 55%, Gourikwa was at 99%, Acacia at 55% and Port Rex at 55%.
“We have made progress. Units that are meant to come back came back.”
He said a unit each at Matla, Arnot and Tutuka with a total of just over 1,500MW returned to service on Friday and a unit at Kriel came back on stream on Saturday.
Eskom plans to return Medupi unit 5 on Sunday and return a unit each at Majuba and Lethabo power stations on Monday.
Ramokgopa said if Eskom built an additional buffer, it would mean the country was less prone to major fluctuations in the intensity of load-shedding.
“That is why unit 2 of Kusile is important and unit 5 is important. We are targeting unit 2 to come on line at the end of the month and unit 5 by the third week of December. Once you build that buffer, the rate at which we intensify load-shedding might not be as severe.”
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