Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom ’s head of power generation, has said that load shedding in South Africa will probably resume in May, once the lockdown has been lifted, and will continue until August 2021. He said that international lockdowns have prohibited Eskom from obtaining vital parts needed for maintenance, including turbines and control systems. It has also been unable to bring in specialised engineers to work on the necessary equipment.
Sikonathi Mant-shantsha, spokesperson for Eskom, said: “It’s not the deep-cycle maintenance that needs to take place. The maintenance needed is the kind where massive boiler and turbine components are replaced, especially at Kusile and Medupi power stations. That cannot happen because the borders are shut and supplies and specialists, who are behind the design and manufacture of these parts, cannot be brought into the country. In reality there are power stations which are initially badly damaged and will need deep repair interventions and will not suddenly be able to meet demand.”
As a result of lockdown and non-essential companies closing, there has been a decrease in demand for electricity. Maintenance has been conducted during lockdown but it is not sufficient. Jan Oberholzer, COO of Eskom, said: “We do expect that when lockdown is lifted, that the demand will pick up drastically. We are getting ready and all our plans. I do not believe that the risk of load shedding has left us. It’s still going to take us, I believe, at least until July next year in order for us to say that we’ve done proper maintenance to say that the risk of load-shedding has disappeared.”