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Smoke at power station shuts down unit

May 12 2015 17:08
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Smoke coming from one of the units at Duvha Power Station 15km east of Witbank in Mpumalanga on Monday resulted in that unit being shut down, according to Eskom.

Energy expert Chris Yelland tweeted that unconfirmed reports showed that “fire on one unit at Eskom Duvha Power Station” resulted in “only one generator unit [being] operational" because "two [were] down for maintenance, two down for repairs, [and] one damaged this morning".

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 shortly afterwards that the national control centre received reports of smoke coming from one of the units on Monday, so they immediately shut down the unit.

“It is possible that five units are down due to planned and unplanned maintenance as well as this further shut down,” he said.

That would mean the power station, which became operational in 1984, was only producing 600 MW of its 3 600 MW capacity.

Eskom announced that it would implement stage 2 load shedding from 16:00 to 22:00 on Tuesday.

Serious investigation needed

Yelland said if there was a fire at the unit, then a “serious investigation” would have to take place.

Majuba Power Station’s coal silo collapsed in November 2014, affecting coal supplies to all six units at the power station, which had a total capacity of 3 600 MW, or about 10% of the country's power needs.

On February 1 2015, unit 1 at Koeberg Power Station was shut down early due to a human error, resulting in 900 MW being cut from the system.

Delays at Eskom’s build programme at Medupi and Kusile have also halted the delivery of 4 764 MW and 4 800 MW respectively.

Eskom said that Koeberg’s unit 1 and Medupi’s unit 6 (794 MW) should start adding power to the grid by June 2015.

No winter load shedding - Eskom

Phasiwe said that Eskom did not expect load shedding to occur during winter, which only starts on June 1.

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“Winter in many households actually starts after April, with some people starting to use heaters as we speak, but officially [it starts] from 1 June,” he said.

He said Eskom’s long-term plan was to reduce planned outages - this week sitting at 6 322 MW - during winter to 4 000 MW. 

“We need on average in winter about 36 000 MW of the 43 000 MW capacity of Eskom’s fleet,” he said.  “So with the machines that are coming back online, we will be able to meet that demand.

“The issue really is to make sure we do have a buffer [of about 2 000 MW extra],” he said.

eskom  |  load shedding


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