Eskom devouring diesel at an accelerating rate

Electricity outages remain at record levels despite Eskom burning through vast quantities of diesel to bolster output.

Eskom said on Tuesday that stage-6 power cuts, whereby 6GW of capacity is removed from the grid to prevent a total blackout, will be scheduled throughout the week. That matches the deepest level of blackouts officially announced by the utility, and caused the rand to extend earlier losses.

While President Cyril Ramaphosa and electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa have given repeated assurances that they are tackling the energy crisis, little headway has been made in improving the performance of the coal-fired plants that form the backbone of the generation system. That’s forced Eskom increasingly to use its auxiliary units to boost its output.

Read: Jan Oberholzer, ex-Eskom COO, moves from coal to renewables

The utility’s data shows it’s generated more energy from its open-cycle gas turbines that run on diesel in the financial year that began 1 April than it did in the previous year. It spent more than R19-billion on the fuel in the year to 31 March, more than double the previous period, a bill that’s set to escalate even further.

Eskom wasn’t immediately available to comment.  — (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP

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