Chicken and Egg

South Africa: Eskom needs more capacity just to stand still, COO Oberholzer says

By David Whitehouse

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Posted on December 8, 2021 11:06

South Africa needs extra power generation capacity just to allow regular maintenance of existing coal-fired plants, Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer told an online briefing.

Heavy capex is needed for maintenance, but additional capacity is also needed to be able to take units down, he said. “Extra capacity is needed just to maintain what we have,” before any of the ageing plants are closed.

According to the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) at Stellenbosch University, Eskom’s core problem is a sustained decline in the availability of installed generation capacity due to lack of maintenance of ageing coal-fired power stations. Until additional private-sector power generation capacity is available, the BER says, loadshedding will remain a constraint on South Africa’s GDP growth.

  • Oberholzer bemoaned the fact that Eskom does not make its own procurement decisions, but has to wait for Treasury approval. Spending decisions can take between 70 and 90 days, he said. “It’s not the right process.”
  • Covid-19 infections over the last eight to nine days are having an

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