Transmission line
Brian Molefe
Eskom’s acting chief executive Brian Molefe said that the utility’s long-weekend strategy was successful. Pic credit: BDlive

On Monday, South African state-owned power utility Eskom announced that it had successfully performed the first part of its planned maintenance drive without load shedding over the long weekend, when South Africans celebrated Freedom Day, an annual celebration of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Eskom’s acting chief executive Brian Molefe said: “Eskom’s maintenance teams worked hard over the long weekend and were able to perform planned maintenance on 2,303MW. They also returned 1,453MW of generating capacity back to service over this period.”

‘Maintenance festival’

This follows a public announcement made by the power utility last week, in the wake of a consistent cycle of load shedding, that it would initiate a “maintenance festival” over the long weekend in an effort to improve the performance and reliability of its power generating units ahead of the expected peak winter demand.

According to the power utility, about 64% of its current installed base-load power stations are past their midlife, requiring longer outages and extended restoration time than planned.

“Midlife refurbishments or replacements are being carried out timeously to reduce equipment failures from occurring, thus improving the ability to provide reliable supply to customers,” Eskom said in a statement.

While the utility expects to have sufficient power supply to meet demand for the most part of the day, in winter the load increase could be up to 36,000MW particularly over the short sharp evening peak between 17:30 and 18:30, Eskom explained in a statement.

Power strategy

According to Eskom, it was able to carry out its plan according to schedule with minimal to no interruptions as it used its emergency reserves, open-cycle gas turbines and pumped storage schemes to augment capacity while the maintenance drive was underway.

“The focus of the maintenance festival is to ensure long-term reliability of the plant as well as restore units that are currently offline due to technical faults,” Molefe said on Monday.

Eskom claims that the power system will continue to remain significantly constrained for this week.

“We would like to thank all electricity users for responding to our message to save. Every little bit of saving counts in reducing the need to implement load shedding,” adds Molefe.