Eskom sounds the alarm on winter power supply

2011-04-08 13:04

Winter power supply will be tight as electricity demand has returned to pre-recession levels, Eskom CEO Brian Dames said today.

“We are on alert and will be for the next five and especially the next two years, while we build new capacity,” Dames told media in Johannesburg.

“We are managing a tight power system ... Winter will be even more challenging for us,” he said, adding that the upcoming winter was expected to be colder than normal.

Dames said that for every 1°C colder it gets, electricity demand increased by 600MW to 700MW during the peak hours of 6pm to 8pm.

Eskom’s resolve not to revert to the power outages of 2008 which crippled the country, would therefore be tested over winter, he said.

“The issue is whether we have enough reserves to do the maintenance we need to do.”

Dames said Eskom forecast winter demand at 37 500MW on the coldest day at peak time.

The parastatal expected 2 percent year-on-year growth in electricity demand for winter.

Electricity demand had increased to the levels at which it was in 2007 before the economic recession set in, Dames said.

The trouble at the Duvha power station, which experienced a “major failure during a statutory turbine overspeed protection test” on February 10, would take 575MW out of the system for more than a year.

“This increases pressure on the system ... and means the ideal level of planned maintenance can’t be done,” said Dames.

An independent investigation into the Duvha incident was under way, and Dames would not comment on the cause until the report was concluded.

The power utility had sourced 373MW of power from independent power producers and 200MW from municipal generators to add to its capacity.

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