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Eskom hopes to avoid load shedding during Sunday's Rugby World Cup game

Oct 18 2019 20:25
Elton Jantjies looks on during the Rugby World Cup

Elton Jantjies looks on during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between South Africa and Canada at Kobe Misaki Stadium on October 8, 2019 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. (Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

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Eskom will implement stage 1 load shedding on Saturday from 09:00 to 23:00, but the power utility hopes that outages can be avoided when the South African national rugby team takes on Japan in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.

In a statement released on Friday evening, the utility said the electricity system remains under severe pressure with several generation units being out of service.

Eskom on Friday morning announced it suffered a major setback after losing three units at the Medupi power station in Limpopo due to coal and ash handling issues. By Friday evening, one of the units was back on line.

The new problems with managing coal and ash at Medupi followed a breakdown in a conveyor belt that feeds coal to the power station. 

The 7km-long coal belt transported 4 000 tons per hour from Exxaro’s Grootegeluk mine to Medupi. The tail-end of the belt suddenly snapped and twisted on Saturday, with the weight of the coal damaging the machine. Eskom chair and acting CEO, Jabu Mabuza, said the belt should be fixed by Wednesday.

Stage 1 load shedding ended at midday on Friday, with stage 2 following until 23:00.

Recovery efforts are underway to fix the coal handling issues at Medupi and to expedite the return of the units that experience technical problems, Eskom said.

"Our emergency response command centre will be meeting early tomorrow to assess the progress overnight and prognosis for the weekend and the coming week.

"We hope to have recovered adequately by Sunday so that South African can enjoy watching the Springboks playing in the World Cup," the statement said.

South Africa takes on Japan in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final just after midday.

Eskom has also blamed the current wave of power cuts, which began on Wednesday, on boiler leaks at six power-generating units. Some of these units are now online. 

Compiled by Helena Wasserman

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