South African utility Eskom on Wednesday said it would have to double planned power outages this week due to more breakdowns at its ageing coal-fired plants.
From 09h00 it began cuts of 4 000 megawatts (MW) from the national grid, up from up to 2 000 MW of rotational power cuts. This translates into more than six hours of daily outages.
The deeper cuts were expected to last until 05h00. on Friday, Eskom said, after which it would return to cuts of 2 000 MW until 05h00 on Monday.
Eskom said the move would help it manage its emergency reserves that use diesel and water to generate electricity.
“This being the fourth day of extremely high diesel usage, the emergency reserves are being depleted faster than can be replenished,” it said in a statement.
Eskom’s power outages have constrained economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised nation for years. The latest cuts started on Monday.
Eskom has said the controlled cuts are necessary to prevent a “catastrophic” collapse of the power grid.
“In order to protect and ensure the integrity of the electrical system, proactive implementation of load-shedding (rotational power cuts) is required,”Jan Oberholzer, Eskom’s chief operating officer, told a media briefing.
More than 15 000 MW of its nominal capacity of roughly 46 000 MW was offline because of breakdowns and a further 5,505 MW for planned maintenance, the utility said.