/ 19 November 2023

Performance of electricity grid disappointing, says Ramokgopa after more unit failures

Kgosientsho Ramokgopa
Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

The performance of South Africa’s power grid has been disappointing over the last two weeks, largely due to the failure of more generating units at Eskom, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said on Sunday.

During his fortnightly media briefing on the country’s energy action plan to tackle chronic power shortages and end load-shedding, Ramokgopa said the past two weeks had seen a deterioration in the unplanned capacity loss factor — the rate at which the generating units are failing.

“(Previously) we were averaging less than 15 000 megawatts; in some instances we were even sub 14,000 MW. We were doing exceptionally well. And that’s why you saw … the green period where we didn’t have load-shedding for a period of eight days. And of course, in instances where we had load-shedding during that period, it was not as intense as we’re experiencing it now,” he said.

“Part of the deterioration is as we have had a significant failure of a cluster of units in Eskom. If I were to compute from the 13th to the 17th of November, the available capacity was at about 26,499 MW. That is still lower than … what I use as the baseline case. The week before that we were 2 000 MW megawatts better than what has been the performance over the past week.”

He said the failure of the cluster of units at the Kendal, Medupi, Hendrina, Duvha, Kriel and Camden power stations had forced Eskom to ramp up load-shedding to stage three. The power utility however expected five units to come back online by Sunday night, Ramokgopa added.

The energy action plan was launched in July 2022 as a roadmap to end load-shedding as quickly as possible and promote the long-term sustainability of electricity supply in South Africa.

The plan outlines five outcomes which focus on fixing existing Eskom infrastructure, improving private investment, fast-tracking the procurement of new generation capacity, encouraging rooftop solar systems and sustaining the energy sector.

Ramokgopa said cabinet had approved implementation of the country’s Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET-IP) which sets out the scale of need and the investments required to support South Africa’s shift towards cleaner energy sources.

“Remember that what the JET-IP does is to say to the country how we intend to deploy the US$12.5 billion that has been made available by international partners,” he said.

“We are going to ensure that in the manner in which we tap from that, it meets the requirements of the country and one of the major determinations there is a principle of ensuring that whatever we do must meet both the pay scale and cost that is consistent with our socio economic situation here in the economy.” 
Ramokgopa said Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy would provide more details on the JET-IP plan, adding: “It’s part of the totality of the efforts that we’re making, in ensuring that we are able to attain energy sovereignty and in the immediate ensuring that we end load-shedding.”