Eskom, which readily concedes it does not have the skills to maintain its plants, is on a drive to bring back former employees to mentor and train staff.
It is also, at last, bringing in the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to conduct maintenance on parts of its plants where its own engineers and artisans are having difficulty. This has previously been difficult due to red tape around public procurement.
Eskom's chief executive André de Ruyter and chief operations officer Jan Oberholzer are frank about Eskom's lack of capacity, which is a large part of the downward trend in the performance of its generating units. Unscheduled breakdowns, which cause load shedding, have been on an upward trend for a decade. In 2011, for instance, Eskom's energy availability factor – which is the proportion of its plant available to dispatch energy – was 84.5%. By 2020, this had fallen to 66.6%, and now sits at 56%.