Following the recent exposé by EE Publishers on the deepening coal supply crisis facing Eskom, alarm bells are also sounding about the utility's worsening generation plant performance impacting on South Africa's medium-term (five-year) system adequacy outlook.
There are deepening concerns about the overall state of Eskom's ageing fleet of coal-fired power plants and the ability of Eskom to meet demand in the next five years. Already, Eskom is operating its emergency open-cycle gas turbines in the Western Cape almost daily to meet demand and avoid load shedding.
Compared with 2017, the energy availability factor (EAF) has significantly deteriorated from 78.61% in 2017 to 73.74% in the 2018 calendar year to date, and this is likely to drop still lower in the summer months of 2018.
Fig 1: Eskom week-on-week energy availability factor (EAF) for 2016, 2017 and 2018 to date
(Graph: EE Publishers; Data Source: Eskom)
Unplanned plant breakdowns, as measured by the unplanned capability loss factor, are significantly higher than expected, while planned maintenance outages remain high, as...