Eskom says the risk of planned power outages remains low this year. This is despite the big maintenance plan at its Koeberg Nuclear Power station in Cape Town that is set to take over five months.
The power station was taken offline on Monday after 450 days of uninterrupted power supply to the national grid.
Risk of load shedding low in 2022: Eskom:
South Africans can expect a year of little or no load shedding this year. Eskom made this commitment on Friday during Nersa’s last public hearings.
Eskom Chief Financial Officer Calib Cassim said it will utilize all its resources to meet the country’s demand. It says the impact of load shedding on the economy far exceeds the cost of diesel used to run the Open Cycle Gas Turbines.
“Just to re-iterate as we’ve said before, Eskom does not plan to load shed during the year, whatever capacity is available we will look to use it in terms of the merit order and if it means utilizing our open cycle gas turbines to meet the demand for the country, we will do that.”
The power utility has put one of its units at Koeberg power station in Cape Town offline for a major maintenance plan. The plan is to refuel Unit 2 and replace Unit 3’s steam generators. Each unit at Koeberg contributes over nine hundred kilowatts to the national grid. However, Eskom Chief Nuclear Officer, Riedewaan Bakardien admitted that this might put additional strain on the power supply system.
“The Koeberg outages are planned at times of the year when the impact on the overall electricity supply is minimised as far as possible. The extended unavailability of the units due to the planned long outages does mean the electricity supply system may be under additional strain during the coming year.”
Energy Intensive Users Group of South Africa co-deputy chairperson Dr Nic Dawson says he’s concerned that Koeberg’s maintenance will put consumers in the Cape vulnerable to possible outages.
“I think one, it is good that they are really doing it and I think that it’s necessary, it’s quite unfortunate that at this particular juncture in time for nationally not just the Western Cape or coastal region in the south. I think yes we are in the hard place with regards to the availability in the Eskom fleet and general maintenance that needs to be done.”
Eskom says the replacement of the reactor pressure vessel head and steam generators has been identified as a requirement for the life extension of the power station. It plans to extend Koeberg’s operation for an additional twenty years.