South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said his government is determined “to reduce the frequency and severity of load shedding by addressing power station breakdowns” nationwide.
South Africa has been experiencing rolling power blackouts for the past few months blamed on low generating capacity caused by obsolete equipment.
Addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said this was a significant challenge, given the average age of the country’s power stations and that in the past “critical maintenance was not undertaken at the necessary intervals.”
“Eskom is urgently implementing measures to improve plant performance, which is a priority until new generation power projects are brought online,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the power utility is also addressing the issue of coal supply and was working with railway operator Transnet “on the transportation of coal and monitoring the consistency of the supply from collieries to power stations.”
“Eskom is addressing the poor quality of coal which often leads to plant breakdowns,” he said.
In addition, as part of the measures meant to restore confidence in its operations, Eskom has decided to bring back “people with experience in running power stations to help with plant operation, management and mentorship,” he said.
In a bid to ensure that critical maintenance was undertaken without delay, discussions were underway to ease local content requirements for spare parts -- and to use the equipment manufacturers to undertake maintenance, he added.
In addressing the immediate energy shortfall, he noted that Eskom had since July worked on procuring emergency power.
As part of this programme, the power utility last week launched power purchase programmes to secure 1,000 megawatts of emergency capacity from private firms with existing generation apart from securing imports from neighbouring countries with excess power like Mozambique.