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An Eskom worker checks power lines. Picture: MARIANNE SCHWANKHART
An Eskom worker checks power lines. Picture: MARIANNE SCHWANKHART

I worked in Eskom’s power generation division for many years as a technical senior manager, until I was given an early retirement package two years ago. I can confirm that Eskom’s problems were self-inflicted, and still are.

Theft of various commodities, such as primary energy sources (coal, fuel oil), is entirely a result of poor contract management. Many experienced and trustworthy early retired contract managers are now relaxing at home instead of managing multi-billion rand contracts for Eskom.

Generating plants are being run with absolutely no long-term plant health objectives in mind — immediate crisis generation to prevent load-shedding takes priority, resulting in a reduction of high-pressure equipment plant life. This jeopardises future reliable generation capacity and, most importantly, the safety of plant and people.

These destructive decisions are taken by incompetent and arrogant senior technical managers, and the impact of their poor judgement only shows years later in the form of reduced plant life and thus high unplanned capability loss factor (UCLF), low energy availability factor (EAF) and unit capability factor (UCF) and inadequate planned capability loss factor (PCLF).

Power plants exposed to such mismanagement and abuse get damaged beyond repair and refurbishment. Power generation is a highly complex industry requiring skilled and experienced managers and staff.

Anyone who has the slightest understanding of power generation and grid requirements will know that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide base-load power from renewable energy generation. Therefore either fossil fuel stations must be maintained or nuclear must fill the gap in future.

When the sun goes down and the wind goes to sleep, renewable base-load switches off the lights. Anyone who blames Andre de Ruyter for Eskom's current state certainly is merely showing their ignorance of the power generation industry.

Francois van Jaarsveld
Via email

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