Why are so many power station units tripping?
Entering stage 4 load shedding signals a dire situation for Eskom’s energy generation and raises serious concerns for the economy.
Eskom has a total generation capacity of 47 000 MW (more if one adds external supply) and, in a normal environment, about 20% is set aside for maintenance and unforeseen circumstances, enabling Eskom to supposedly cope with demand requiring up to about 38 000 MW of capacity. This should be more than sufficient for our current generation requirements of 26 000MW to 29 000MW. Entering Stage 4 load shedding on Monday means that production is around 4000MW lower than this, indicating that Eskom is running with a very low capacity of around 65%.
Eskom expects state 3 load shedding (up to 3 000MW) for Tuesday.
Clearly there is a serious problem. Eskom needs to explain why multiple units tripped simultaneously – Eskom reported that six units tripped on Monday – and what the real extent of the challenges are going forward.
“Eskom’s aging power plants require urgent attention to keep the lights on and it would appear that, aside from the lack of maintenance over the past years which is catching up with us today, the shortage of skills and expertise to manage, maintain and operate these aging plants has added to Eskom’s woes,” says Ronal Chauke, OUTAs energy portfolio manager.
Even more concerning are reports that the brand-new power stations Medupi and Kusile are also failing. Two units at Medupi failed on Monday, contributing to the