Electricity Minister to continue Eskom power station visits

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is expected to visit the Matimba and Medupi Power Stations in Limpopo today.

This is a continuation of the Minister’s visits to all of Eskom’s power stations which began last week. The visits are aimed at engaging management, workers and unions.

Power stations to be visited this week are Grootvlei Power Station on Tuesday, Hendrina and Arnot Power Stations on Thursday, Matla and Komati Power Stations on Friday and the Majuba Power Station on Saturday.

Speaking to the media during a visit to Koeberg Nuclear Power Station earlier, Ramokgopa said the coal powered fire stations need to up their performance during the winter season with Koeberg’s 920MW Unit One expected to delay in returning to service.

“Those underperforming power stations in Mpumalanga, Tutuka Power Station in particular, have to make significant improvements. We know that at Kusile [Power Station] we can’t make an improvement anytime earlier than in November of this year.

“So it means that the other [power stations] must meet the demands disproportionately because in winter, we know the demand is going to rise exponentially. We had hoped that Koeberg will be within the timeframe…so we are likely to miss the target of 23 July to get the additional 920MW. To put it into context, that’s one stage of load shedding so that was going to help us to bring it down.

“So we need to put greater emphasis on those 13 [coal fired] power stations to improve their energy availability factor [EAF],” he said.

The Minister said Tutuka and Kusile power stations in particular need to up their power generation significantly.

Tutuka has an energy availability factor of between 15% and 17% and Kusile has an EAF of some 19% due to the long term breakdown of three of its units.

“I did say, when we went to Tutuka that it is the worst performing and we can get an additional 2500 to 3000MW [from it]. So Tutuka must do everything possible to help us in this situation and the others will keep on adding.

“Kusile can’t…realistically, we can only get those units in terms of their planning [which is] the four of the five that are out by the 24th of December and then the remainder will come back on stream in February next year,” Ramokgopa said.

He emphasised that the department, together with all stakeholders, are doing much work to ensure that the electricity crisis is resolved as quickly as possible.

“So we are doing everything possible. Once we have visited all of these stations and we are confident of the numbers that the station managers are giving us we should be in a position to communicate where we are in relation to addressing this situation.

Load shedding

“But I want to give the South African public assurance that…I don’t see us moving to higher stages of load shedding. I foresee a position where we don’t need to go higher than Stage 6.

“I am confident, more than confident, in our ability to address load shedding – essentially the 6000MW that are missing to help us meet the demand,” he said.

The minister called on South Africans to play their part as government continues its implementation of the Energy Action Plan.

“One of the things I’d like to raise with the public is that it’s all in our hands. The focus has been on the generation side…as we attack the generation side, I think there are some issues on the demand side. A computation was done and it says we can save up to 4000MW, an optimistic case but on the low end down to 2000MW just by behavioural change.

“[That is] just by switching off geysers…it’s going to help us and in that way we are going to go to lower stages of load shedding. Let’s assume on the optimistic side…we are able to get 4000MW. That’s a power station the size of Medupi, so you are able to eliminate load shedding just on the demand side. We can contribute to the resolution of this challenge,” Ramokgopa said.

Source: South African Government News Agency