State power utility, Eskom, says it is working hard to address the causes of persistent breakdowns at power stations and ensure that the higher stages of load shedding are reduced.
This as the power utility implemented Stage 6 load shedding this week going into the weekend.
Stage 5 is expected to be implemented between 5am and 4pm on Saturday, returning to Stage 6 between 4pm and 5am on Sunday morning.
Following that, Stage 4 will be implemented from 5am to 4pm on Sunday afternoon and return to Stage 6.
“Eskom regrets the escalation of load shedding to Stage 6 but would like to assure all South Africans that our personnel at the various power stations are working around the clock to bring units back online and at higher efficiencies as soon as possible.
“It is to be noted that load shedding is implemented as a last resort to maintain the stability of the national grid,” Eskom said.
The electricity provider explained that long term outages have worsened the strain on the grid and has removed some 3080MW from the power system – the equivalent of three stages of load shedding.
“Apart from other generation challenges, the current situation has been exacerbated by the loss of four major units, which are on extended outages.
“Units 1, 2 and 3 of Kusile Power Station are currently offline as a result of the failure of the Unit 1 flue gas duct on 22 October 2022. Work is underway to bring these units back online from November 2023.
“Unit 1 at Koeberg Power Station is currently on a long-term outage for maintenance and refuelling as well as the replacement of the steam generators and is expected to return to service on 6 August 2023,” Eskom said.
By Friday, the power utility had lost some 17 093MW of generating capacity due to breakdowns with a further 6392MW out on planned maintenance.
The electricity provider emphasised that the “root causes” of these breakdowns are being addressed through the Generation Recovery Programme.
“Eskom continues to drive generation recovery initiatives which are aimed at preventing the current performance from deteriorating in the short term and improving the overall performance of the generation fleet in the long term.
“There have been some improvements recently, including several power stations achieving an energy availability of 70% in March as well as the suspension of load shedding on some days,” the group said.
Eskom maintained that it “does not want to implement load shedding if at all possible” but warned that with the power system under “severe pressure” the possibility of load shedding still remains.
“The cold front expected this weekend is anticipated to further increase the demand for electricity, adding to the capacity constraints, especially at evening peak hours from 5pm until 9pm. This can be alleviated if all consumers switch of heating and high consumption appliances during the peak hours.
“We thank those South Africans who heed the call to use electricity sparingly and help to alleviate the pressure on the power system,” Eskom said.
Source: South African Government News Agency