Load shedding: Eskom blames unplanned breakdowns due to boiler tube leaks

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State power utility Eskom has said unplanned generating unit breakdowns caused by boiler tube leaks are to blame for load shedding.

Earlier on Wednesday, it announced that it would implement stage 2 load shedding from 09h00 to 23h00 “due to shortage of capacity.”

In a follow-up statement, Eskom said the unplanned breakdowns were made worse by “delays in the return to service of units that are on planned maintenance and limited diesel supply.”

10,500 MW limit

In a briefing on 4 September, Eskom said unplanned breakdowns had to be contained at below 9,500 MW.

In the event breakdowns caused capacity shortages exceeding 10,500 MW, load shedding would be necessary, it explained.

This is what has happened in this instance. Eskom said, “The supply constraint is caused by, among others, five generating units that are unavailable due to boiler tube leaks.

“In addition, a conveyor belt supplying Medupi Power Station with coal failed on Saturday, 12 October resulting in low volumes of coal being supplied to the power station thus limiting the generating capability to approximately half the station output.”

Eskom apologises

Eskom “unreservedly” apologised to South Africans, but assured them that “we continue to work tirelessly to ensure security of energy supply.”

It urged the public to use electricity sparingly through a number of measures, including setting air conditioners at an average temperature of 23ºC.

Other measures it suggested are switching off geysers at peak periods, running swimming pool pump cycles twice a day, and turning off computers, copiers, printers and fax machines at the switch at the end of the day.

The country last experienced nationwide load shedding in March this year. Eskom continues to experience unplanned unit breakdowns at ageing power stations.

The new power stations, Medupi and Kusile, reportedly have serious design flaws that limit their electricity output.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s draft economic recovery strategy paper moots selling some of the power stations.

However, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Parliament recently that the state is not keen on selling them, especially the new ones.

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