More generation capacity needed to end power cuts in the country – Eskom

Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

South Africa needs an extra 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity to eliminate the risk of scheduled power cuts, state utility Eskom said, adding it would forge ahead with a maintenance plan to improve its performance.

Eskom supplies over 90 percent of the electricity in Africa’s most industrialised nation, but regularly implements outages because of faults at its coal-fired power stations that hold back economic growth.

“To ensure system stability and to meet demand a minimum 4,000 MW of additional generating capacity is critical,” Eskom said in a briefing on the state of the power system.

“This will ensure the space for generation to continue with the planned reliability maintenance and refurbishment programme.”

The utility said its energy availability factor – a measure of plant performance – in the financial year that started in April was at 65 percent, below a 70 percent full-year target. It has implemented outages on roughly 30 days since April 1.

“Our generation business remains a concern – mainly due to its age and a legacy of poor maintenance,” it added.

As of March Eskom had nominal generation capacity of around 46,000 MW.