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Excess power allows Eskom to switch off

Aug 10 2017 17:28
Francois Williams

Johannesburg -  Although Eskom does not explicitly state how huge its power generation surplus margin is, it has already switched off 14 units of its older coal power stations over weekends.

This emerged from a further study into the state utility’s recent annual report, released last month.

Eskom's interim chief executive Johnny Dladla says that because of the added capacity of Eskom’s new power generation capacity from its new coal power stations Medupi and Kusile, as well as its Ingula pumped storage scheme, Eskom now has so much excessive surplus that it could increase the export of its electricity with up to 8% in the next five years.  

He wants the power utility to increase its local electricity sales by 2.1%.

It has been over two years since load shedding stalked the country, and the utility's current focus  is to manage the surplus power generation in order to save costs, Dladla said.

Eskom will temporarily close the Hendrina, Grootvlei and Komati power stations over the next three to four years, to trim its surplus power and manage power generation costs optimally.

Hendrina will be shut down in the next financial year, followed by Grootvlei in 2019/20 and Komati in 2020/21.

On weekdays, Eskom is already converting four to six units of its ageing power stations to what it has labeled as "cold reserves".

Cold reserves is when power generators are disconnected, but can be powered up fast  - within 12 to 16 hours - if needed.

Over weekends this could be expanded to as many as 14 units.

Eskom’s units at Grootvlei and Komati have already been placed in extensive cold reserves, which means that it has been scaled down to such an extent that five days are needed before the units can be restarted.

Grootvlei and Komati were built in conjunction with the Camden Power Station in the 1960s. But in the 1980s, the power stations were switched off due to a surplus of power at the time. When South Africa experienced a shortage in 2005, the stations were switched on again and operated till 2013.

A study of Eskom's supply and demand figures over the past decade shows that it has had a reserve of 22.7% over the past financial year, if Eskom’s nominal generating capacity is compared to the system's peak demand. In the 2007/08 fiscal year, at the peak of the load shedding crisis, Eskom’s reserves stood at only 15%, the figures showed.

Sales to neighbours:

Eskom’s aim is to sharply increase its net electricity sales by more than 400% to neighboring countries from now until 2022 . The state utility wants to sell 39 172 GWh of electricity, opposed to the net 7 675 GWh sold over the past financial year.

By the end of March, Eskom concluded new five-year contracts for electricity output of 450 MW generating capacity.

Of South Africa’s neighboring countries, Mozambique is the Eskom's largest customer, followed by Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Together the countries represent 5.6% of Eskom's total power sales.

For this story and more business news in Afrikaans, visit Netwerk24.

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eskom  |  electricity

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