Eskom seeing higher demand in SA for energy

South African power utility Eskom is experiencing higher-than-expected demand for energy, Matimba Power Station manager Christo van Niekerk said this week.

Kumba Resources (KMB) provides the Matimba power station with coal from its Grootegeluk mine, with Matimba in line of sight of the mine.

The Grootegeluk coal mine has sufficient coal reserves to guarantee Matimba a minimum lifespan extending out another 35 years, but this lifespan could be further extended to 50 years.

“Power demand is getting higher, even in summer. Next year the squeeze is going to get even tighter,” Van Niekerk said. The Matimba power station sees its highest level of demand from May to August.

In general, industrial consumers use about 80% of all electricity produced in South Africa, while ordinary consumers use the remaining 20%.

“Residential demand for electricity is increasing rapidly due to the increase in the electrification of housing,” he added.

The increase in electricity demand is unlikely to result in power rationing by Eskom, such as has happened in California, Brazil and China, Van Niekerk said.

“What happened in California was largely a function of the deregulation of the power market there,” he added.

Matimba forms part of Eskom’s seven power-station clusters in South Africa. The power station gets its name from the Tsonga word, which means “power”, and is the largest dry cooled power station in the world, with a capacity of 3,990 megawatts. It has six turbo-generator units, each generating 665 megawatts of power.

“The Drax power station in the UK is similar in size to Matimba and has capacity of 4 000 megawatts,” Van Niekerk said. Drax is one the biggest power stations in the UK.

The Matimba power station’s annual power generation is about 27,000 gigawatt-hours, he added.

Van Niekerk said that, looking at current South African power demand patterns, there is a very strong need for more power stations to be built in the future. He added that the South African government will regulate Eskom’s involvement in the building of any new power stations. It is generally estimated that a new power station will cost R50-billion rand.

South Africa’s annual production of bituminous coal is about 240-million tons, with Eskom consuming just over 100-million tons. – I-Net Bridge

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