According to South Africa’s state-owned electricity provider, it is making steady progress in reducing its maintenance backlog, and has largely fulfilled the requisite plant maintenance without load shedding.
Despite a constrained and ageing power system, the company still continues to provide more than 96% of country’s electricity requirements even when load shedding at Stage 2.
Eskom has consistently warned that the power system is expected to remain constrained for at least the next two years, and that balancing supply and demand during this period would be particularly difficult.
Eskom’s Acting Chief Executive Brian Molefe says: “The focus of our maintenance drive is to ensure long-term reliability and sustainability of our power generating plants. Since December last year, the availability of Eskom’s plant performance has improved from 65% to 75%.”
“Going forward, we plan to continue with our maintenance programme in an effort to reduce the backlog that has accumulated over the past few years. Most importantly, we plan to execute the maintenance drive without having to implement load shedding.”
More than 64% of Eskom’s power stations are in their mid-life and require more preventative maintenance in order to improve their performance and ensure their safety. However, over the past few years a backlog of maintenance outages has developed, and Eskom has identified it as a priority to reduce the backlog as well as keep up with the maintenance schedule.
As has been the case since winter of 2013, some generation maintenance will continue to be done throughout the winter period to assist in ensuring a sustainable generation fleet.
This is in line with the company’s vision of achieving an 80% plant availability, 10% planned maintenance and 10% unplanned maintenance in the next three years. The adherence to philosophy maintenance (regular scheduled maintenance) is set to limit unplanned maintenance below 7 500 MW in summer and below 5 500 MW in winter.
In the next five years Eskom will add over 17 000 MW of new capacity to the national grid. To date over 6 238 MW of new capacity has already been added.
Moreover, Medupi Unit 6 was successfully synchronised to the national power grid for the first time on Monday, 2 March 2015, and is currently being progressively tested and optimised to enable it to join the Eskom Generation fleet as a significant contributor to the country’s constrained power supply. Unit 6 currently produces 800MW into the national grid.
Medupi consists of six units of approximately 800 MW each, for a grand total of 4 800 MW, which is 12% of Eskom’s total installed capacity. Eskom is pulling out all stops to ensure that the completion of the remaining five units is not hampered by technical or labour issues.