Energy News

Revitalizing Power Trio: South Africa’s Key to End Load-Shedding

Published by
WIlliam Dube
  1. Electricity Minister Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa identified Eskom’s Hendrina, Tutuka, and Kusile power stations as crucial to ending load-shedding in South Africa, citing their combined energy availability factor (EAF) and installed capacity.
  2. Each power station faces unique challenges: Hendrina struggles with aging infrastructure, Tutuka battles corruption and coal quality issues, and Kusile contends with technical and structural problems.
  3. Dr. Ramokgopa remains hopeful that targeted efforts to address these challenges will significantly reduce or eliminate load-shedding, paving the way for a more sustainable energy future in South Africa.

Electricity Minister Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has expressed confidence in South Africa’s ability to overcome load-shedding, citing Eskom’s Hendrina, Tutuka, and Kusile power stations as the best opportunities to achieve this. The minister’s remarks came during his “power station roadshow” in Mpumalanga, where he toured various power stations and engaged with their management to gain a better understanding of their challenges.

According to Dr. Ramokgopa, the energy availability factor (EAF) of these three power stations makes them Eskom’s best hope for ending load-shedding. Combined, they have an installed capacity of 8,854MW (excluding Kusile’s yet-to-be-operational Units 5 and 6), which is equivalent to eight load-shedding stages. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the current state of each power station and the potential for enhancing their EAF.

Hendrina Power Station: A Struggling Legacy Plant

As one of South Africa’s oldest and smallest operating power stations, Hendrina was established in the 1970s and has a total installed capacity of 2,000MW. Currently, however, the facility is in a “very, very difficult state” with at least four units out of operation. With the lowest EAF among Eskom’s 14 coal-fired power stations at 17.9%, Hendrina will require an “elevated effort” to improve performance and restore functionality to its units.

Eskom has announced plans to decommission and repurpose three of its coal-fired power plants, including Hendrina, as part of its Just Energy Transition Strategy. This shift toward green energy will involve fully shutting down seven power stations within the next decade.

Tutuka Power Station: Corruption and Coal Quality Challenges

Commissioned in 1985, Tutuka has a total installed capacity of 3,654MW. Despite this, it’s one of Eskom’s worst-performing power stations, with an average output of 1,170MW. Plagued by poor quality coal and procurement irregularities linked to corruption, Tutuka’s EAF has dropped dramatically from 75% just a few years ago to an estimated 15-33.3% today.

Despite these issues, Dr. Ramokgopa remains hopeful that all six units at Tutuka could be operational by the end of April, restoring 3,000MW to the grid and eliminating three load-shedding stages.

Kusile Power Station: Hindered by Technical and Structural Issues

Once fully operational, Kusile is expected to be among the world’s largest coal-fired power plants, with a total installed capacity of 4,800MW. Construction began in 2008, but numerous setbacks have caused delays, and only four of the planned six units are currently operational. Dr. Ramokgopa has identified Kusile as Eskom’s worst-performing power station, with an average output of 713MW and an EAF of 24.7%.

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has attributed Kusile’s underperformance to a corrupt tender awarded to Hitachi Power Africa, which resulted in three of the four operational units being taken offline. Dr. Ramokgopa, however, disputes this claim, arguing that technical and structural problems are the primary causes of Kusile’s difficulties.

By year’s end, Dr. Ramokgopa aims to have Kusile’s three non-operational units and Unit 5 up and running, adding 3,200MW capacity to the grid and eliminating three load-shedding stages. A recent environmental exemption granted to Kusile allows the power station to operate without a damaged component needed to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions. Dr. Ramokgopa told eNCA that this exemption would enable Eskom to return the out-of-operation units to the grid before the end of the year.

A Brighter Future for South Africa’s Energy Sector

By focusing on improving the energy availability factor and addressing the challenges faced by the Hendrina, Tutuka, and Kusile power stations, South Africa has the potential to significantly reduce or even eliminate load-shedding. This would not only provide relief to residents but also support economic growth and development in the country.

As South Africa continues to transition towards greener energy sources and decommission older, less efficient coal-fired power plants, investments in renewable energy and infrastructure improvements will play a critical role in ensuring a reliable and sustainable power supply.

In conclusion, the Electricity Minister’s “power station roadshow” has highlighted the importance of these three power stations in ending load-shedding and shed light on the challenges they face. With a concerted effort from the government, Eskom, and power station management, South Africa could see a future free from load-shedding and a more sustainable energy landscape.

WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on

Published by
WIlliam Dube

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