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Eskom doing everything to avoid load shedding amid coal crunch


Eskom is scrambling to get supplies of coal to six power stations where stockpiles are critically low‚ raising concerns about the parastatal’s ability to feed power into the national grid.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland raised a red flag on Monday when he revealed reports about “alarming coal supply problems at numerous Eskom coal-fired power stations in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province.

“Eskom has been relying on emergency‚ diesel-driven‚ open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) regularly to meet demand this year. The latest coal supply reports suggest that Eskom’s current coal supply problems are as serious‚ if not worse‚ than those that existed in South Africa shortly before the load shedding of 2008‚” he wrote on the website ee publishers.

He said coal stockpiles were low at Arnot‚ Camden‚ Hendrina‚ Komati‚ Kriel‚ Majuba and Tutuka power stations.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe confirmed on Tuesday that coal was being diverted to six power stations that had a shortage. Three of them were supplied by Gupta-owned Tegeta.

Speaking on Radio 702 he said: “We are diverting coal from some of the stations that have adequate supply to make sure that we manage the situation. We also have just recently got approval from the Treasury to make sure that we get additional sources of coal so that we can keep the system running.”

He said three power stations that were supplied by Tegeta had declared an emergency. Although some power station stockpiles were a “big concern”‚ he said the situation was being managed. “We are doing everything possible to not go to that stage of load-shedding‚” he added.

Yelland attributed some of the supply problems to a decline in production volumes from mines that supply coal directly to specific power stations in Mpumalanga.

“Other coal supply challenges at Eskom’s Arnot‚ Hendrina and Komati power stations arise from the dysfunctional Tegeta coal mining operations‚ that have left Eskom high-and-dry in the months prior and subsequent to the Gupta mines filing for business rescue in February 2018‚” he wrote.

Eskom on Monday made representations to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) in its application to get back R66.6-billion in revenue for the past three financial years.

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