6 April 2009 – Late last week, fears of blackouts in the Western Cape were once again brought to the fore when, during routine maintenance on Unit 1 of the Koeberg nuclear power station, Unit 2 went into unexpected shut down.
This comes just days after Eskom’s CEO, Jacob Maroga indicated that he did not anticipate blackouts for the next 24 months. This, Maroga said, was due to slowing demand due to the economic downturn.
“We have asked society to reduce demand . . . and with the global economic slowdown, that has happened naturally.
“So, we have more breathing space,” he said.
However, Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica cautioned that South Africa was operating at a very low electricity reserve margin and again called for awareness of the need to save power. The lack of disruptions, the minister continued, should not be taken as an indicated that the crisis had passed. She indicated further that savings of 0.4% were insufficient with winter on the way.
Koeberg’s unexpected shut down did not affect electricity supply to the Cape, as the region is being supplied by other power stations such as the Atlantic and Mossel Bay open-cycle gas turbine power stations.
In a statement, Eskom warned, “The risk of power-supply interruptions to the Cape will, however, increase should any of the available generation in the Cape and/or transmission plants experience faults.
“In this instance, Eskom will make a call to the public, the private sector and the utilities in the Cape to heighten their measures to conserve electricity.”