Supply tight as Eskom battles wet coal

2011-01-25 18:13

Johannesburg - Power utility Eskom is managing its problems with wet coal for now, but power supply remains tight, a senior official said on Tuesday.

In early January, heavy rains hit the production and quality of coal supplied to the utility's power plants, affecting Eskom's ability to power the economy.

Chief Commercial Officer Dan Marokane said Eskom had put measures in place to buy better-quality coal and to protect its stock from upcoming rainfalls.

While showers have eased recently, more heavy rains are expected in the coming weeks which would test the provisions taken by the utility, he said.

"The system is still tight and all manners of energy savings must still be pursued," Marokane told journalists.

Eskom supplies the majority of South Africa's electricity, most of which is based on coal.

It has been struggling to meet fast rising demand and has warned that supply would remain tight until 2015, and especially over the next two years, until its two new power plants come on stream.

South Africa's national grid nearly collapsed in early 2008, partially due to coal shortages and rain, forcing mines and smelters to shut for days and costing South Africa billions of dollars in lost output.

Many of Eskom's power plants are currently undergoing maintenance which could further strain supply, although Marokane said that Eskom's sole nuclear plant, which was partially shut last month for repairs, was again operating at full capacity.

  • J - 2011-01-25 22:50

    Honesty at Eskom ? Come on blame us for using electricity, for not building power stations etc etc Did they have a good holiday over Xmas again and forgot to delivery coal, scratching at the bottom of the heap again. Sell it to private industry.

  • Oh Boy - 2011-01-26 05:08

    Here we go again- Eksdom starting with excuses again- early this year may I add- to the taz payers- justifying just why the next elec increase is yet so important to them- The new boss needs a fancy new car you know. Yet we hear of wet coal- THIS IS AFRICA- JAN/FEB IS ALWAYS WET SEASON!! Dont you fools learn? COVER THE COAL!! Stop spinning stories to the public and do what you are paid for! Always excuses- What is EKSDOM GOnna do when the tzx payers start with excuses as to why not to pay them?

      Andre Nel - 2014-03-25 14:00

      Hi Oh Boy, That's what we did for Eskom in 2008. This time they must be out of coal altogether because if they had coal in stock they just have to call and we can cover the coal for them. Andre

  • Watcher - 2011-01-26 05:57

    This protection of coal from the wet was supposed to have happened in 2008. Typical - all words and no action

  • David - 2011-01-26 08:31

    Nice, remind me again, why the government feels that the building of the 2 new coal power plants is the best thing for the country? they can't supply coal to the one plant that is currently running how are the going to fuel the other 2????

  • Baba Bruno - 2011-01-26 10:19

    When does the coal get wet? Before or after mining? I thought coal is waterproof if not yet mined. Anyway just built holding silos/bunkers for the mined stuff.

  • Amit Parekh - 2011-01-26 10:49

    Based on the comments submitted, I assume that none of you have any knowledge on the working of a coal nor the scientific composition thereof.... I therefore suggest that you morons make an effort to educate urselves prior to regurgitating this utter drivel. oh and FYI coal gets wet after its been mined. coal can't be stored in silos due to the weigth ! Coal is stock piled and then transported direct to the mine within a matter of days.

  • No Scientist - 2011-02-03 07:45

    @Amit Parekh - Thank you for your useless comment. Have you actully read your comment before posting? You most probably are an Eskom employee. Eskom has been generating electicity for years and never attributed "wet" coal as a reason to make electricity more expensive.Only since the collapse of their infrastructure. And will the new stations be able to burn "wet" coal as well? Besides, the coal dries in the milling process by the heat generated friction and applied heat before the powdered coal gets injected into the burners.

  • The Glue Guru - 2011-02-11 11:47

    Coal absorbe water once going onto stock pile. Even during stock pile they use a little water as a lubricant for the compacting process. This has a dual pupose,one to stock air flow through the stock pile and two retard the water penetration into the stcok pile during rain down pour. Then they spread fine coal material over the stock pile and compact again. In heavy rain this will wash away and hopefully can be replaced before the next heavy rain come they can recover with the fine coal material and so on and so on. There is a sulution to keep the fine amterial in place during heavy rain. Use of glue substances is comonly used in countries like Canada were they have snow which melts and water contaminate the coal below. is has been done here in SA just a matter of planning for it.

      Andre Nel - 2014-03-25 14:03

      We did it in 2008

  • Andre Nel - 2014-03-25 14:27

    If Eskom had coal to cover we would have heard of it. In 2008 we covered their coal. Now it appears they do not have coal on stock.

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