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South Africa’s troubled utility Eskom to extend power cuts

The state-owned company has had to rely on emergency reserves to meet power  demand across the country.

Electricity pylons are seen in front of the cooling towers at the Lethabo Thermal Power Station,an Eskom coal-burning power station near Sasolburg in the northern Free State province, March 2, 2016. Photography: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Troubled South African state utility Eskom on Thursday said it would extend power cuts into Friday, with energy experts predicting that outages would have to be stepped up next week as more businesses reopen after the New Year holidays.

Troubled South African state utility Eskom on Thursday said it would extend power cuts into Friday, with energy experts predicting that outages would have to be stepped up next week as more businesses reopen after the New Year holidays.

The latest round of power cuts across South Africa, implemented sporadically since the weekend, is a reminder of the fragility of Eskom and how its unreliability has frustrated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to lift economic growth.

The power cuts have meant a baptism of fire for Eskom’s new chief executive Andre de Ruyter, who started work on Monday and will oversee a government plan to split the company – which produces more than 90 percent of South Africa’s power – into three units to make it more efficient.

Eskom said in a statement on Thursday that it would continue overnight cuts of up to 2,000 megawatts (MW) from the national grid until 6am local time (04:00 GMT) on Friday as it had lost additional generating capacity overnight.

The utility has been hobbled by repeated faults at its fleet of coal-fired power stations.

It often has to rely on emergency reserves such as pumped storage facilities and open-cycle gas turbines to meet power demand, but those reserves were insufficient on Thursday, when more than 14,000MW of the utility’s 44,000MW nominal capacity was offline due to plant breakdowns.

Clyde Mallinson, a local energy expert, said he expected power cuts of between 4,000MW and 6,000MW next week.

Source: Aljazeera

 

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