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Will Eskom Keep Your Lights On?

3 November 2014 8:40 AM

Confirmation from Eskom of a prematurely collapsed coal silo at Majuba coal station - along with promises of no further load shedding.

Lengthy load shedding and unexpected blackouts in some of South Africa's major centres including Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Pretoria have been linked to a collapsed coal silo at Eskom’s Majuba power station in Mpumalanga.

Eskom Spokesperson, Andrew Etzinger:

This is way outside any function we’d made on faults and breakdowns and technical difficulties, it really was quite a catastrophe at the power station. It’s a thirteen year old power station, the most recent one we’ve brought onto the fleet, a coal silo which collapsed but is expected to last the lifetime of a power station with no moving parts. It’s supposed to be built properly, like a dam wall. It’s extremely concerning. We had inspected this particular silo as recently as last year, the structural engineers gave it their mark of approval, so really, there’s a lot of questions to be answered now.

Asked by 702's John Robbie whether we're in crisis, Etzinger responded:

No. We’ve managed, to avert that through the installation of mobile coal conveyors at the power station, so we’ve got about 1200 tons of coal at the moment, going into the power station at every hour – that’s enough to light up about a third of the power station. We’ve got enough power to avoid load shedding through the day. We are tight though, which is why we’ve asked our customers to please use power sparingly.

Etzinger has confirmed there would be no load shedding scheduled over Monday, but with conditions:

Unless something goes wildly out of kilter on the demand or if we were to see another unexpected – well, touch wood! Everything’s under control and what we’ve put in place overnight at the power station seems to be holding up.

Meanwhile, energy expert Chris Yelland has weighed in on some of the structural matters affecting the power situation, speaking to Cape Talk's Kieno Kammies:

All things being equal, being the caviat given by Eskom's CEO - in other words, no other problem arising. I think that Eskom tend to be overly optimistic in their estimations. They need to be more conservative in their estimations.

3 November 2014 8:40 AM