By Zukile Majova
The vulnerability of Eskom’s ageing coal fleet struck again on Tuesday, forcing the power utility to announce plans to reintroduce Stage 6 load shedding.
Eskom said in order “to replenish emergency reserves, Stage 4 load shedding will continue to be implemented” until Tuesday night.
“Thereafter, Stage 6 loadshedding will be implemented from 20:00 (Tuesday) until 05:00 on Wednesday, followed by Stage 4 load shedding from 05:00 until 20:00.
“The pattern of implementing Stage 4 from 05:00 until 20:00 and Stage 6 from 20:00 until 05:00 will be repeated daily until Saturday morning,” Eskom said in a statement.
The latest shortage in generation capacity comes just days after Eskom plunged the country into Stage 6 at the weekend.
Eskom said 1,300 MW of generation capacity was returned to service over a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday, but this was not enough to save the country from higher stages of load shedding.
As Eskom implemented Stage 6 on Tuesday night, the power generation division announced an important reprieve with the return of Kusile Unit 2 two days before the planned date.
The generating unit added 800 MW when it was synchronised into the grid on Tuesday, averting a power shortage that would have plunged the country into Stage 7 or Stage 8.
“This marks another significant milestone in the Eskom Generation Operational Recovery Plan which aims at increasing the energy availability factor to 70% by March 2025,” Eskom said in a statement.
The return of Unit 2 into the grid means Kusile Power Station will now generate 3,200 MW.
Meanwhile Minister for Electricity, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, is due to receive the first consignment of energy equipment donated by the Chinese government.
A handover ceremony is scheduled for Thursday in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The donation forms part of the technical assistance programme that was entered into in August 2023 during China’s head of state visit to South Africa.
“The first consignment which has arrived in South Africa consists of 450 gasoline generators which will be distributed to public service facilities across the country,” the department said in a statement.
The generators will be used as backup power in clinics, schools and the courts.