Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 24 January 2012 – South African national power utility Eskom Holdings is keeping up with demand for electricity, but its margin of availability over demand is well below the internationally accepted safe margin of 15%.
In its latest twice-weekly capacity update released here, Eskom said that progress was being made with planned maintenance of the power system, but admitted that supply remained tight.
It revealed that the electricity generating capacity available to meet last night’s peak demand was 33,214MW, while demand is forecast at 31,371 MW. Current planned maintenance stood at 4 286 MW. The demand for power between Thursday and Sunday had also been adequately met.
On 17 January peak demand of 31,278MW was met by available capacity of 32,954MW “’ a margin of 1,676MW (5%) or around three modern 600MW coal-fired generators.
And on 9 January peak demand of 30,282MW was met by available capacity of 30,742MW, or a margin of 460 MW, or only 1.5%. The internationally accepted safe margin is 15%.
Eskom says the reason for this low margin in South Africa is that it carries out planned maintenance on its power stations during the seasonally low-demand summer months, so that the power stations are ready to handle the peak winter demand months of June and July, when service delivery peaks.
This year and next year Eskom will not have the spare capacity to be able to have a large generating unit fail, as the first unit of the new Medupi power station will only come on line in 2013.