Eskom and government have started planning for Stage 5 and Stage 6 load shedding, according to officials who say that there is a race against time to ensure that a national blackout and grid collapse does not happen.
At the first major briefing to explain the fourth day of Stage 4 power cuts, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said that the government and Eskom were determined not to go beyond Stage 4 load shedding where 4000 MW has to be shed in long and regular blackouts to business and residential consumers.
But it is now clear that there is planning to Stage 5 and Stage 6 in order to ensure that there is no national blackout.
“It will be a huge struggle to overcome this crisis,” said Gordhan.
An extensive briefing by Eskom executives and the Department of Public Enterprises on Tuesday has made it clear that the national power supply is more precarious than previously understood. South Africa has bought all available diesel on the high seas (to run emergency power), maintenance of power plants is in crisis because boiler tubes are bursting at eight units across three power stations and there is a planned strike early in April.
The government will be going to the National Treasury to seek an opt-out of strict procurement laws to provide for emergency and faster purchasing.
Eskom Board Chairperson, Jabu Mabuza, says Eskom exceeded the permitted amount of diesel usage in open cycle turbines. Mabuza says due to breakdown at power station plants, Eskom has had to use open cycle turbines to supplement power supply.
He says The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) only allows R600 million in spending on diesel a year, but Eskom has now spent close to R5 billion. This comes as the country endures yet another day of severe stage four load shedding.
It’s estimated to cost the economy around R2 billion a day.
Mabuza says the diesel turbines were never designed to provide base-load electricity but to only be on standby for emergencies and says Eskom will continue with plant maintenance and report back in a few days.
Mabuza has also conceded that the lack of maintenance of units at power stations has been the main cause of breakdowns in power supply. He says Eskom has a number of operational and structural challenges that are contributing to the utility’s overall problems.
~ Fin24 and SABC
Natasha Mazzone MP, DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises – 19 March 2019
Today, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and the chairperson of the Eskom Board, Jabu Mabuza, confirmed what we have known all along. The ANC has broken Eskom to the extent that it is on the verge of actual collapse. The damage the ANC has caused has seen Eskom broken seemingly beyond repair, and the damage that this will cause will be catastrophic to the South African economy, job creation and to the lives of ordinary South Africans. President Cyril Rhamaposa, Minister Gordhan and Jabu Mabuza are not only culpable, but they have run out of ideas on how to address the extent of the crisis. They are quite literally fumbling in the dark for solutions.
This follows four solid days of rolling power cuts as the embattled power utility battles to revive eight generation power units.
The challenges at Eskom lie squarely at the feet of the failing ANC, which has actively looted and broken Eskom to the verge of collapse.
Minister Gordhan’s press briefing today was nothing more than a talk shop and is proof that the ANC cannot and will not keep the lights on – they have neither the capacity, ideas nor the political will to fix the electricity crisis which they have caused. Simply data-dumping PowerPoints presentations on the people of our country will not change this reality.
South Africans need a stable electricity supply which will reinvigorate our stagnant economy and create much need jobs for the millions that are unemployed. Continued blackouts like we have seen are causing a jobs blood-bath that the people of this country cannot afford. No investor will touch us as a country with an electricity grid that is headed to a complete shutdown. Very soon rolling black outs will impact the provision of water and many other basic services. This is indeed a national crisis.
Only a DA government can bring lasting, effective solutions to Eskom. A DA government will:
- Privatise the generation entities of Eskom, allowing a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, increasing competition and lowering costs;
- Instruct Eskom to immediately freeze the build on the last two outstanding units at Kusile, and instead look to bring on more IPPs to provide power. Eskom’s debt is spiralling due to cost overruns on the two big coal builds, while the units are not running at full capacity due to design and build flaws.
- Reaffirm Eskom’s engineering and maintenance employees as an “essential service” that cannot enter into strike action;
- Install major smart meters for municipalities to force municipalities to collect revenue timeously; and
- Allow well-functioning metros to source energy directly from independent energy suppliers.
- ANC has been and continues to be a the single biggest threat to Eskom and to the economy.
South Africans will have the chance on election day to cut the ANC’s power and bring in a DA government that is both capable and willing to fix the catastrophe left by the ANC on our energy sector.
System capacity = 48 GW
Outages = 25 GW, made up of
Unplanned breakdowns: 17 GW
Planned maintenance: 5 GW
Cahora Bassa; 1 GW
OCGTs (no diesel): 2 GW
Leaving: 48 – 25 = 23 GW available
To meet demand of 30 GW
Shortfall = 30 – 23 = 7 GW
IPPs: 3 GW
Loadshedding: 4 GW
— Chris Yelland (@chrisyelland) March 20, 2019