South African state utility company Eskom said on Wednesday that the prospects for electricity remain very uncertain, and unplanned outages often differ by 2,000 megawatts (MW) in a week.
The repeated breakdowns of the Eskom coal fleet are a major brake on economic growth in Africa’s most industrialized country.
The company with a nominal capacity of about 46,000 MW has carried out planned power outages for more than 30 days this year, which is more than the same period last year, when power outages reached record levels.
At a press conference, Eskom said that in its baseline version of 12,000 MW of unplanned outages during the winter months of April-August there were no days of scheduled outages.
But in the scenario with 13,500 MW of unscheduled outages there could be 37 days of power outages in the winter and 104 days in the scenario with 15,000 MW of unscheduled outages.
More than 15,000 MW of capacity this week was offline due to breakdowns at various stages.
Eskom will carry out a power outage “Phase 2” from 17:00 to 22:00 local time (from 15:00 Greenwich Mean Time to 20:00 Greenwich Mean Time) on Wednesday after three generating units failed, requiring disconnection before 2,000 MW from the national grid.
Eskom generates more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity, but has been struggling to meet demand for more than a decade. The government of President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to make the firm more efficient, but progress has been difficult.
Eskom said Wednesday that none of the 15 coal-fired power plants are operating at full capacity.