OPINION: I am quite worried about the Koeberg power station -there are too many interferences that are hindering the continuing work of repairing and extending its lifespan, writes Adil Nchabeleng.
THERE is a rule called a carpenter’s rule, it says, “Measure twice and cut once”.
The rationale behind the carpenter’s rule is that you plan extensively and prepare wisely before embarking on any action in life. Because once you take the action to implement a plan you have only one opportunity to do it right. This all relates to planning.
I am quite worried about the Koeberg power station. There are too many interferences that are hindering the continuing work of repairing and extending the lifespan of Koeberg Power station.
Some of the interferences seem deliberate to delay the finalisation work needed to be completed on the Koeberg unit 1 and unit 2 steam generator works. These interferences will further push delays on the power station units to return back into operation.
If Koeberg units generating 2,000MW do not return to operation as scheduled, the delays will add unnecessary stress on the current situation of load shedding. So bringing back into operation those units must be the highest priority.
The rebuild on the Koeberg nuclear power station infrastructure in terms of the steam generator, is shrouded by heavy vested interests to destroy the operating license of Koeberg as a means to further delay the plant from returning to operation.
There is too much politics around the plant and that should be avoided at all costs. Eskom should provide executive leadership and direction to support the Koeberg plant.
The executives should prioritise the return to operation of the Koeberg power station. There is just too much interference especially from people in the green lobby who are trying to stop Eskom focusing on nuclear.
Current Eskom loss on the plant right now is about 16,000MW. It is a significant capacity. There has only been a reduction of about 3.000MW since the start of the Energy Action Plan programme.
We also should be mindful of the fact that significant progress has been made on returning generation capacity back into the grid but more work should be carried out on focusing on the fundamentals of electricity generation which are driven by baseload energy in South Africa.
Remember that each 1,000MW loss in Eskom over an annual period is about R132 billion for every 1000 MW contribution reduction in gross domestic production (GDP) in a year. So if, for example, more than 1,6000 MW are currently out of production that equals over R2.1 trillion GDP lost in the economy.
Our economy cannot afford to lose R2.1trl for whatever reason. The problem is that because these economic numbers are not discussed openly we become tolerant towards load shedding. Every time Eskom increases the load shedding stage we all suffer financially and economically.
The other challenges at power stations is the issue of the costs overrun and cost wastages in respect to the Medupi and Kusile build, the bigger crisis lies with other Eskom power plants and the issue of actually diesel spending.
More than R12bn has already been spent in the current financial year with regards to spending on diesel. It is actually something that should be monitored and properly administered. We cannot prioritise spending on diesel while that money could have been directed at fixing power stations.
The Minister of Electricity has only managed to resolve 3,000MW. Another 6,000MW is needed to get out of this entire crisis of load shedding. In total South Africa needs at least 10,000 MW recovered from breakdowns. That way we have enough energy reserve margin required.
Once SA achieves a milestone of repairing and fixing about 10,000MW and returning these power plant units back to operation, Eskom can use less diesel, reducing its spend.
We need to have fewer plants breaking down and produce actual electricity that is demanded by the economy. We cannot as citizens allow Eskom to be a company that discourages consumers to use less of its product.
Electricity is vital. People should be consuming more electricity to produce the higher levels of GDP that we need to grow our economy. It will boost jobs and create the incomes that we need in our country.
Eskom should be providing that electricity on a secure guaranteed basis so that economic growth becomes a normal standard in South Africa.
We have the power plants with around 50,000 MW of installed capacity that are available within Eskom that can provide for all the energy we need. Eskom has no capacity crisis.
The crisis of power plant breakdowns was self engineered. On this part I agree with former president Thabo Mbeki when he said that there seems to have been a deliberate sabotage of Eskom. As you look deeper you see the traces of that sabotage.
We need to plan for future additional energy capacity and our capacity. Without planning on growing our energy generation and grid capacity expansion we are doomed. We will go nowhere as an economy and country.
BRICS Summit has come and gone and all those agreements signed must now be put into action and implemented. The days of talking are over
Eskom, the Department of Public Enterprises, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Minister of Electricity must plan for the immediate future to revive and fix power stations. And have a plan for the next year and so on.
For the next three years build a new mega build power station fuelled by coal, gas, nuclear and hydro battery storage.
Renewables will continue to grow and take sizeable market share of energy generation for households and semi industrial needs. But on their own renewable energy cannot replace baseload fossil fuels energy.
Within the energy sector currently there is no long-term plan and even the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 is totally flawed on the long term needs of SA.
The current long-term plan is based on the Just Energy Transition plan, which is going to be disastrous because we don’t have technology that is capable of fully moving SA out of coal and fossil fuel based energy electricity.
The plan should be right now, immediately bring back all the power plants that are currently out of action and service that are broken down under no scheduled maintenance. Bring them back, make them operational and you recover the 16,000 megawatts.
Once you have saved the country from going into load shedding for the next 10 years, then map out new future capacity so South Africa’s economy never has to suffer the blow of no capacity again.
For South Africa to quickly improve out of this situation it must study what other countries around the world are doing on building there in energy capacity. They will find that they are building brand new power stations at 10 times the rate of their economic development. For example, China is building 50 power stations a year.
The mindset has to change from our side, as Africans, to start moving at a fast-growing pace of transformation to end the poverty our people are suffering amid a stale economy.
* Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng is the president of Transform RSA and an independent energy expert.
– BUSINESS REPORT