Despite lower than desired coal stock levels at seven power stations‚ Eskom says it is actively taking steps to manage the situation so that customers will not be adversely affected.
“Eskom is highly cognisant of the significant impact insufficient coal supply would have on its operations and the entire country. The organisation is currently facing imbalances whereby several coal-fired power stations‚ particularly those in the Mpumalanga province are affected. However‚ it is also important to note that at this stage‚ the level of coal stock days in more than half of the 15 coal-fired power stations in the Eskom generation fleet is maintained above the grid code target of 20‚” the utility said in a statement.
The prevailing situation at seven stations — Arnot‚ Tutuka‚ Majuba‚ Hendrina‚ Camden‚ Kriel and Komati — is that coal stock levels are below the required target of 20 days as stipulated in the Grid Code. Although the total current coal stock day levels of 35 days (excluding Medupi and Kusile power stations) are within an acceptable range it is necessary to have all stations at the required stock day levels‚ said Eskom.
It cited a number of factors‚ including an historical under-investment at cost-plus mines due to capital constraints and the under-supply on both coal quality and quantity by the Tegeta mines which are under business rescue‚ having negatively impacted stock levels and production.
The recovery plan includes securing additional coal supplies for the affected stations and a further redirection of coal stock is under way to address the imbalance‚ said Eskom.
Fears on possible load shedding due to a shortage of coal are unfounded‚ the utility said.
“Eskom has contracted 84% of the coal it requires over the next five years. A recovery plan is in place to address the short-term imbalance of coal and to improve the stock days at the seven stations below minimum. Eskom is working on ways to expedite the coal procurement process at these mines‚” said Eskom’s interim group chief executive‚ Phakamani Hadebe.
The situation cannot be compared to 2008 when SA experienced load shedding‚ said Eskom. “During that period coal production and delivery were severely affected with wet coal – due to abnormal rain fall – being at the centre of the various challenges experienced at that time. On top of those challenges‚ was an increase in demand for electricity which resulted in coal stockpile levels being significantly lower than the targeted levels. In the first week of January 2008‚ the number of stockpile days was at an average of 12 days and improved to 24 days in July 2008. Currently Eskom’s overall stockpiles level is at 35 days excluding Medupi and Kusile. Furthermore‚ the additional capacity from our new build power stations‚ has increased capacity‚ further enabling us to keep the lights on.”