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Supply tight as Eskom battles wet coal

Jan 25 2011 18:13 Reuters

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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.

electricity generation  |  ipps  |  eskom



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