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Eskom prepares for higher demand

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Energy experts say that load shedding is expected to continue for a few more months at least

File picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

ESKOM said it used the low-demand period this weekend to continue replenishing emergency generation reserves in preparation for anticipated higher demand as more people return to work.

In a statement, the power utility said it currently had 6,060 MW generation capacity on planned maintenance while 13,206MW  of capacity was unavailable due to breakdowns and other load losses.

Eskom implemented overnight  Stage 2 load shedding on Wednesday and Thursday after it said it needed to preserve recovery and preserve the emergency reserves following an earlier-than-planned shutdown of Koeberg Unit 1 and other units whose return to service had been delayed.

At the time, the power utility said it had 6,672 MW on planned maintenance, and another 12,073 MW of capacity was unavailable.

Eskom’s Koeberg Unit 1. File picture

Energy experts said, however, load shedding was expected to continue at least for a few more months.

“If you look at Eskom’s own predictions, it shows that for the next three months, every week there is a high probability of load shedding. However, this does not necessarily mean that it might happen, depending on how quickly it responds to the breakdown of units,” energy expert Chris Yelland said.

Another expert, Ted Blom, expected the country to experience more load shedding before Friday next week.

“Industries are reopening from Monday, and this is expected to spike the demand for electricity. Given the current situation of maintenance work still being carried out, we can expect load shedding before Friday,” Blom said.

Eskom said its teams were working hard to return as many of the units to service as soon as possible.

According to Yelland, Eskom was currently experiencing a combination of three challenges which were putting the power utility under pressure.

Besides the planned maintenance which was normally undertaken during summer when the electricity demand was low, the Koeberg Unit 1 was shut down unexpectedly due to a leak, “which worsened the position of unplanned outages”, Yelland said.

“Then there was what is referred to as other outages, which included three units at Camden power station, taking out about 600 MW, ” he added.

Eskom said it would communicate should there be any significant changes to the power system.