Eskom promises more maintenance to improve plant performance

Eskom on Wednesday welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to liberalise the electricity sector in South Africa, saying the move will give the utility the space to increase maintenance of its ageing and unreliable coal-fired generation fleet.

“Eskom is placing significant emphasis on recovering its energy availability factor (EAF) at especially its coal plants, where performance has been disappointing,” the state-owned company said in a statement.

“The measures announced by the president will allow Eskom to intensify its maintenance efforts to drive improvements in the EAF.”

The EAF, which in essence shows the productivity of Eskom generation plant, has been in decline for years, contributing to the growing intensity of load shedding. Its coal fleet had an EAF in 2018 of 71.9%. This fell to 66.9% in 2019; 65% in 2020; and 61.8% in 2021. There has been little improvement in 2022, a year that’s on track for the worst load shedding in South Africa’s history.

President Ramaphosa on Monday announced sweeping changes to the energy sector, including the scrapping of licensing for private power generators over 100MW in size. He also promised to allow Eskom to buy excess power from private producers and boost the hiring of skilled workers at the utility, among other measures.

“Eskom welcomes the announcement of further reforms and is in full support of measures announced by President Ramaphosa on Monday to address the long-running electricity crisis. These reforms will go a long way towards easing the power generation constraints the country has been grappling with for some 14 years. The reforms will accelerate the end of load shedding and will expand and grow the electricity generation industry in South Africa through structural changes,” Eskom said in Wednesday’s statement.


“Particularly pleasing is that the government has made these moves to empower Eskom to speedily acquire additional generation capacity from existing independent power producers with excess capacity, to acquire spares and equipment from original equipment manufacturers, and indeed the resources to increase the funding of the maintenance budget. To this end, Eskom is engaged in efforts with all interested stakeholders to introduce the necessary skills where we have gaps. Eskom has already reached out to the National Society of Black Engineers to ascertain if its members are interested in assisting Eskom to bolster its skills.”

The utility added that its efforts to acquire battery energy storage systems are at an advanced stage, with further tranches of roll-out to follow “imminently”.

“Furthermore, as the president announced, Eskom has already released land with grid connections for long term leases by independent power producers, with more to follow in the near future.”  — © 2022 NewsCentral Media