Eskom pushing maintenance programmes

2012-06-01 14:06
Tariq Issel points at the overhead power cables, which were believed to have been the cause of the latest power outage in Johannesburg. (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

Tariq Issel points at the overhead power cables, which were believed to have been the cause of the latest power outage in Johannesburg. (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

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Cape Town - In the next few weeks electricity will be in tight supply and Eskom will conduct maintenance programmes to ensure that power stations work at optimal capacity, the utility said.

"We have not had any load shedding since 2008. We have communicated clearly the demand supply situation in the country and have made it very clear that the power system will be constrained over the next few years," CEO Brian Dames told News24.

Electricity usage spikes during winter and Eskom conceded that it was late in investing in additional power-generation capacity.

"The demand is increasing and we have not invested early enough," said Dames. "Some of our power plants are 30 and 35 years old; they have to be maintained."

The utility has been on a build programme to increase electricity capacity and the utility's expansion budget is set to grow from R385bn to over a trillion rand by 2026.

Loan

A recent loan granted by the African Development Bank loan of $365m will be used to build a solar plant in the Northern Cape province and wind farm plans for Port Elizabeth have be opened for public comment.

Dames said that Eskom had increased its maintenance schedule so that it could guarantee energy security during winter when demand peaked.

"We are doing maintenance - unprecedented levels of maintenance this year of year as we go into winter. We've not done this before to address the backlog we've been talking about and to improve the safety and reliability of our plants.

"Our objective would be that by the end of next year [2013] we would have eliminated most of our backlog."

The Medupi power station is scheduled to come online in 2013 and the utility is also moving ahead with the Kusile plant despite objections from environmentalists.

"Despite using the latest technology, for every unit of electricity produced, Kusile will use 173 times more water than wind power would use," said Melita Steele, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.

"The first unit of Medupi is on track for delivery next year," said Dames.

President Jacob Zuma will visit the Medupi plant next week to witness a boiler pressure test before the commissioning process begins.


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