Medupi Power Station. Pic credit. Reinart Toerien. EWN
Medupi Power Station. Pic credit Reinart Toerien. EWN
On completion in 2019, Medupi power station will add 4,764 MW to South Africa’s national grid. Pic credit: Reinart Toerien. EWN

Last week, during a Cabinet meeting, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said Eskom’s power station fleet was making progress in improving its electricity generating capacity.

Radebe’s statement came two days after it emerged that South Africa’s gross domestic product declined by 1.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 of 2015.

Investment analyst with Absa Wealth & Investment Management, Chris Gilmour, said in a radio interview on SAfm’s Market Update that South Africa has for the first time this year seen tangible evidence of what rolling blackouts have done to its economy.

Gilmour said: “Barclays Capital’s Peter Worthington has already changed his view and we are looking now at 1.5% (growth), down from 2%. A large part of that is due to the impact of electricity shortages.”

Power station maintenance

Radebe explained: “While load shedding is regrettable, Eskom is committed to perform the necessary maintenance to improve the long-term health of our plants with reasonable disruptions.

“Unit 2 of the Koeberg Power Station in the Western Cape will shut down on Monday [today] for planned maintenance. The unit is expected to return to service after three months.”

Radebe said the Cabinet welcomed Unit 6 of Medupi Power Station in Limphalale, Limpopo, which came to full commercial operation and contributed 800MW to the national grid.

The unit’s operation, which was delayed since its launch in March due to testing processes, was officially opened by President Jacob Zuma yesterday.

Load shedding on a back burner?

In further news, Eskom is hoping to start a fourth week of no load shedding.

“Eskom does not anticipate that there will be a need to load shed today (Sunday) as the power system is currently stable”, the electricity parastatal said in a statement.

“However, the system remains vulnerable, meaning that any extra load or faults in the system may necessitate the need to implement load shedding.”

Eskom appeals to consumers

Eskom had met the country’s electricity demand while operating its generation power station fleet in a sustainable manner for three weeks, resulting in no load shedding for 21 consecutive days, it said.

The utility appealed to consumers to continue to reduce their electricity usage throughout the day.

Specific reference was made to the need to reduce demand on the power station fleet and to save more during the peak periods from 6am to 10am and 5pm to 9pm.