The largest power plant breakdown in South Africa in three years has caused multiple unplanned outages in the past week, thus causing a decrease in production at many of the countries major companies. Roger Baxter, Chief of Mines in South Africa stated that many companies have confirmed that they are feeling constrained by the rationing of the power supply, especially as they become more frequent. Bloomberg Business reports: “Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the utility that provides 95 percent of the nation’s power, rationed supply for a fourth straight day on Friday. Its aging plants are breaking down more often and the startup of new capacity has been delayed by construction issues and labor unrest.” As much as 37 percent of Eskom’s installed generating capacity was offline last on Thursday.
Bloomberg goes on to report that “Eskom is struggling to keep the lights on after the country failed to invest adequately in generation in the 20 years after the first democratic elections in 1994, even as the government expanded supply to an extra 7 million people.” Although Eskom has already removed 2,000 megawatts from the power grid, it is estimated that they will have to cut 4,000 megawatts of capacity in the coming weeks, amounting to blackouts of 9 hours in length in 4.5 hour blocks in both businesses and homes.
South Africa is the world’s 7th largest producer of coal, and Eskom uses coal to generate about 80% of its electricity. Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi declared that state-owned African Exploration Mining and Finance Corp., “will be augmenting its portfolio to contribute towards greater security of supply.” Many companies and residents are demanding research be done in order to find more efficient ways to use coal. Read more on this here.