Eskom’s three worst-performing plants responsible for nearly half of all breakdowns

At the worst station, two-thirds of capacity is broken down at any time …
Fixing these broken power stations is likely necessary from a human resources as well as an engineering point of view. Image (of Tutuka Power Station): Bloomberg

Just three power stations – Tutuka, Kendal and Duvha – accounted for 44%, or nearly half, of all Eskom plant breakdowns in the 12 months to March.

This emerged at the utility’s state of the system briefing earlier this month. On average, Tutuka had 2 256 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity unavailable for the most recent financial year which ended in March. Kendal had an average of 1 613MW of generation offline, while Duvha had 1 139MW unavailable.

Together, this totals 5 008MW. If Eskom was to fix these clearly broken power stations – likely both from an engineering (plant) and human resources point of view – and restore just half of these amounts offline, this would be enough to plug the shortfall that Eskom currently has during the evening peak.

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Eskom confirmed to Moneyweb that the main contributors to outages across the fleet – boiler (20%), turbine (17%), draught plant (14%) and generator (10%) – were consistent at these three worst-performing plants. It says “in addition, outage slips and trips were also significant contributors at Tutuka”.

Troubled Tutuka

Tutuka near Standerton, with nominal capacity of 3 510MW, is Eskom’s worst-performing power station by some margin.

That an average of 2 256MW of generation was offline due to breakdowns – referred to as unplanned capability loss factor (UCLF) – means only a third of the station (two of its six units) was online, on average, during the 2021/22 financial year. This figure excludes any planned maintenance.

This month, Eskom confirmed two incidents of sabotage at the plant.

In the first, a cable to unit five was severed which delayed its return to service. This was discovered the same day that “the control air pipe supplying the turbine systems had been cut with a power tool and the entire bend removed”.

It was reported that the latter was done just outside of the view of CCTV cameras. The acts were reported to police.

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In a statement, Eskom said it believed “these were deliberate acts of sabotage by someone who had access to the site where only employees have access and knows the security features in the area quite well”.

Last August, Eskom suspended seven managers at Tutuka. In the last financial year, it reportedly suspended 20 employees on matters related to “theft and collusion” after the apparent theft of R1.3 billion in spares from the power station during the year.

Kendal and Duvha

At Kendal, near Emalahleni, nominal capacity is 3 840MW (from installed capacity of 4 116MW). The 1 613MW of “average” generation capacity lost to breakdowns equates to around 42%.

The number at Duvha, also to the south of Emalahleni, is similar. It has nominal capacity of 2 875MW and the capacity offline for unplanned reasons averaged 39% for the last financial year.

Duvha has already permanently lost 575MW of capacity. Duvha Unit 3, which exploded in 2014, was originally meant to be replaced. Eskom forecast this to be “recovered” in 2019/20. The utility received an insurance payout of R4.2 billion for the incident in 2015. The recovery project was cancelled in around 2018.

The return-to-service date for Unit 2 at Duvha – which was already six months overdue, apparently due to several ‘mistakes’ that kept delaying progress on restarting the unit – was delayed further earlier this month when it was discovered that the incorrect oil had been used.

The top performers

By comparison, at Eskom’s two best-performing large coal-fired power stations – Lethabo (3 558MW of nominal capacity) and Matimba (3 690MW of nominal capacity) – the average amount of generation offline due to unexpected breakdowns equates to 10% and 13% of capacity respectively.

This is very close to Koeberg’s average unplanned losses, which equated to 9.6% in the most recent financial year.

Eskom has previously said the recent suspicious incidents (at Tutuka and Duvha, as well as another at Hendrina) are the difference between it having enough generation capacity and being forced to implement load shedding.

Read: Eskom in dire straits: Maintenance lags as utility overspends on emergency diesel

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Unions are claiming deliberate failings at power stations in order to accelerate the move to privatization. They fear job losses if this should happen. Why is that? Competent people will surely be kept on. Is their worry that incompetent/corrupt staff will be let go? Please privatize!

I suspect the opposite. “Workers” see possible privatisation and shortage of government funds looming and so accelerate their looting and sabotage.

Duhva is a classic case of total mismanagement of a great power station.
These stations were of the 6 pack design that sees 4 Units running, one unit on standby and light work and one unit under maintenance.

So now you lose one unit, 9 years ago already, and it suddenly changes to 4 running with one on maintenance and nothing on standby.
If there is a fault with a unit now planned maintenance are ignored for the sake of expedience with predictable results !!!

And we are “surprised” ?????

Eskom”s power stations are the best litmus test of decades of ANC corruption and mismanagement.

The ANC represents a culture that is narrowly focused on consumption while it neglects and ignores maintenance. This particular cultural system has no room for issues like sustainability, profitability, scarcity, value, or maintenance. The communalist system specializes in the redistribution of resources, not in the protection, renewal, and building of resources. In their experience, nature provides all the regeneration that is required. The rainfall brought new pastures to partially compensate for the overgrazing. If we look at the traditional homelands, for example, it is clear that nature cannot keep up with the scope of overgrazing and degradation of renewable resources.

An abundance of resources, and the absence of scarcity, is the point of departure of all communalist reasoning. Therefore, the communalist culture is built upon a farce. Its most fundamental premise, upon which the rest of the ideals are built, is factually incorrect. The Freedom Charter and its baby, the South African constitution, is built upon a misunderstanding of physical reality. No constitution is able to protect human rights when that constitution infringes property rights. Property rights are the most basic human right, a right that guarantees all the other rights. Property rights ensure individual freedom and liberty.

The constitution guarantees the right to life. Tell that to the 11 babies who died during power failures, the 34 miners who died at Marikana, and the 144 Life Esidimeni patients who died at the hands of the government.

The total privatization of all spheres of government is the only solution. Let property rights sort out this collectivist mess.

Indeed Sensei
The start indigent method of land development is best exemplified by the area around Port Edward.
Google map it and you will be struck by the vast difference in land use between what was the Transkei and the “old” SA.
In 1976 this areas land was given to the indigent and is now populated by squatters in spaese dwellings with the trees all gone. On the east side of the river the land was bought by private and commercial people and it is lush and productive !!

But they got the vote and the land !!!!!!!!!!!

Aye, now add that the ANC regime is hellbent on taking that “lush and productive” land (without compensation) and turning it into being “populated by squatters in sparse dwellings with the trees all gone.

End of comments.

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