Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza says the operational side of Eskom requires “crisis reaction” as well as time and speed to fix the current load shedding situation.

He was briefing the media on Tuesday, along with Minister of Pubic Enterprises Pravin Gordhan as the country entered the fifth consecutive day of rotational black outs.

The media was taken through several slides showing the gap between Eskom’s installed capacity of 48 000 megawatts and average available supply of 28 000 megawatts

Seven generating units are currently out of the system due to boiler tube leaks.

This is the single biggest cause of plant breakdowns. The power utility’s fleet is ageing and some of the power stations are 50 years old and the average is 37 years old.

Boilers can contain up to 600 kms of tubing and a breakdown anywhere along the system requires the boiler to be cooled down. The maintenance team can then access the area and fix the leakage using high precision welding. The boiler is then re-started and steam is generated to power the turbines. This entire process takes an average of a week.

“In the last five years, maintenance spend was getting less and less, [which was] incongruent with plant ageing more and more,” Mabuza said.

Mabuza said the question is what was the money earmarked for maintenance being spent on. He added that these cases are being pursued as civil and criminal matters.

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