Home Opinion and Features EXPLAINED: Eskom sets record straight on ‘burning issue’ of turbine usage

EXPLAINED: Eskom sets record straight on ‘burning issue’ of turbine usage

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Eskom has provided clarity on its usage of open-cycle gas turbines and the burning of diesel.

Eskom’s Daphne Mokwena said contrary to media reports and speculation, Eskom’s utilisation of OCGTs is closely monitored, and their role is strategic rather than extensive. Picture: Henk Kruger, Independent Newspapers

ESKOM has given clarity on its usage of open-cycle gas turbines or OCGTs.

Last month, it was reported that Eskom had spent billions of rand burning diesel in the past five years. Responding to a written parliamentary question from DA member Farhat Essack, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said that during the 2019/2020 period, Eskom spent R5.8 billion. The following financial year, it spent R5.76 billion.

Eskom’s Daphne Mokwena on Friday disputed media reports that the electricity provider has excessively used diesel to avert load shedding.

South Africa has seen more than 40 consecutive days without load shedding, the longest stint since lockdown.

Mokwena said the continuous suspension of load shedding is due to sufficient generation capacity, resulting from a more reliable generation fleet.

She explained that unplanned outages have reduced by 4,400MW since April 26 due to extensive maintenance and the success of the Generation Operational Recovery Plan initiated in March last year.

“The Energy Availability Factor (EAF) has improved significantly, performing above 60% since April 29 and reaching 65% on May 1, with a month-to-date figure of 63.34%.

“Eskom’s outlook for the winter period of 2024 states that it will continue to strategically utilise its peaking stations, including OCGTs. OCGTs are dispatched during morning and evening peaks to meet high electricity demand when it is necessary,” Mokwena said.

According to a media statement from Eskom on Friday, in April, Eskom spent R1.1 billion on OCGTs, producing 167.8GWh.

“This is about 60% less than April 2023 when R3.1 billion was spent to produce 470.22GWh. The OCGT load factor for April 2024 decreased significantly to 6.8% compared to last year’s figure of 19.13%. Diesel spending on OCGTs shows a declining trend, with R53.9 million spent in the first nine days of May 2024,” Mokwena said.

Eskom’s budget for diesel in the current financial year – April to June 2024 – is R5.8 billion, and R1.16 billion has been spent as of May 9 equating to 19.7% of the total budget.

“Contrary to media reports and speculations, Eskom’s utilisation of OCGTs is closely monitored, and their role is strategic rather than extensive. In determining Eskom’s diesel budget, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) makes a revenue decision related to OCGT volumes for Eskom and IPPs based on assumptions for the years ahead. It is to be noted that the Eskom Board determines the budget, which resulted in a reduction from 18% load factor of the FY24 to a 12% load factor for FY25, whilst Nersa’s allowance is at 6% load factor. Eskom’s performance in April 2024 aligns closely with Nersa’s 6% load factor,” Mokwena said.

She added that the Multi Year Price Determination (MYPD) methodology requires Eskom to utilise OCGTs to minimise load shedding.

“The current usage of Eskom’s OCGTs is no cause for alarm,” Mokwena said.

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