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Eskom in ideal position with excess capacity

On Thursday, Eskom interim group chief executive Johnny Dladla said that the company’s priorities have shifted from ensuring a secure supply of power to managing surplus capacity.

“As a result of additional new generating capacity added from Medupi, Ingula and Kusile power stations and our rigorous fleet maintenance programme, plant availability has improved from 69.9% in 2015 to 77.3% at the end of March this year,” Dladla said.

Adherence to a strict plant maintenance programme has also resulted in a drastic reduction in unplanned maintenance and the number of breakdowns over the past two years.

Managing excess capacity

“In terms of our existing Generation Sustainability Strategy, we aim to achieve 80% plant availability, 10% planned maintenance and 10% unplanned maintenance by 2020,” said Dladla.

To manage the surplus capacity, Dladla said Eskom has adopted an aggressive sales volume growth to support economic growth by encouraging an annual growth of 2.1% in local demand and 8% in export sales over the next five years.

He said: “We set out with the aim of stabilising and re-energising our business for longer-term sustainability and growth, by setting aggressive goals for progress.

“We shall continue with our rigorous programme of planned maintenance, to ensure security of power supply, while also minimising the use of open cycle gas turbines. We are already reaping the rewards.”

Project developments

According to the parastatal, all four units at Ingula, with total installed capacity of 1,332MW, are now in commercial operation.

The utility explained that Medupi Unit 5 was synchronised on 8 September 2016. The unit, with installed capacity of 794MW, achieved commercial operation on 3 April 2017, after completing performance, reliability and compliance tests.

After the synchronisation of Kusile Unit 1 on 26 December 2016, the unit achieved full load during March 2017, while testing continues.

The project is working towards commercial operation of the unit. Medupi Unit 4 was also synchronised on 31 May 2017.

A total of 585.4km transmission lines were constructed during the year. We also commissioned 2,300MVA transmission transformer capacity, both exceeding the year-end target.

The 765kV network to the Western Cape was completed, signifying a significant milestone towards improving grid stability.

Dladla added: “Eskom is ideally positioned to support the economic recovery of South Africa and enable industrial growth across Southern Africa.

“We will build on the momentum of our performance and efficiency improvements over the recent years and become a more customer-centric organisation that partners with key sectors to increase industrial activity, electricity consumption and job creation.”

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.