'SA's electricity supply still under pressure'
South Africa has up to five years to go before its electricity supply crisis is over.
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has up to five years to go before its electricity supply crisis is over and consumers may face limited power cuts this summer.
Managing Director EE Publishers, Chris Yelland, told the Money Show that Eskom's credibility is under strain and the real problem at the power utility is the availability of the existing fleet of generation, which is declining faster than new generation capacity is coming on.
"There are serious problems facing Eskom, on the one hand there is the question of financial sustainability and on the other hand is the question of capacity problems. We've heard that Medupi Power Station will start coming on stream in December but it's four years late," Yelland said.
On Monday the power utility started the 100-day countdown to Medupi coming online.
The station, which is the first to be built by the power utility in 20 years, is being constructed near Lephalale in the Limpopo Province.
It's expected to ease pressure on the national power grid.
After numerous delays in its construction, the power plant is on track to meet its deadline.
Yelland argued that all six units at Medupi should have been delivering commercial stable base load power by October 2013.
"It's nearly a year after and we don't even have the first stream yet. So the energy availability factor has dropped from 85 percent to 75 percent. When Medupi comes on stream in 2018 we will only start to catch up from all the power that has come off the bars."
The managing director maintained that the existing fleet has declined because of generation capacity shortages.
"The strategy of keep the lights on at all costs comes at a significant cost. The new strategy at Eskom should be to start doing things by the book even if that means some blackouts now and again."
Medupi is expected to be synchronised at midday on Christmas Eve.
The synchronisation involves a generator being connected to the power grid so that its power is aligned with all the other generators.