How Eskom kept the lights on at the weekend

  • Eskom suspended loadshedding on Saturday and since then power cuts have been kept at bay.
  • The reason behind this sudden dip in power cuts is the fact that Kusile Unit 3 is operational once more.
  • Should everything go to plan, Kusile Power Station could be generating 2 400MW by the end of this month.

In a truly bizarre turn of events, Eskom suspended loadshedding for nearly the entire weekend. For the first time in the longest time, South Africans enjoyed a weekend without scheduled power cuts and while loadshedding was meant to return on Sunday, it’s now only scheduled to return at 16:00 on Monday.

So how did the power utility manage to do this? Quite simply, Kusile Power Station is coming back online.

Last year, the power station’s flue-gas desulphurisation unit collapsed rendering the power station unusable. Over the course of the last 12 months, Eskom has been working to bring the power station back online and Unit 3 of the power station came back online ahead of schedule. There are two more units that need to come online and Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says that by the end of October all three units should be back online.

“I’m really excited to indicate that now we are beginning to turn the corner. In this instance turning the corner simply means that we have that additional generating capacity, we are bringing back those three units. Of course, in keeping with the previous briefing we will be bringing the other units online during the course of October. The last of the three will come at the end of October or early-November,” Ramokgopa said during an update about government’s Energy Action Plan.

Once all three units have been synchronised with the grid, Eskom expects to generate as much as 2 400MW at Kusile Power Station. This would effectively remove two stages of loadshedding. In addition, Eskom hopes to bring Kusile Unit 5 online in December but there is still testing to be done according to Ramokgopa.

Should Eskom manage to dot the i’s and cross the t’s by December, South Africa could be generating a total of 3 200MW at Kusile.

Assuming all of these best-laid plans pan out, Eskom could knock its unplanned maintenance figure far below the 14 000MW target it set itself.

However, with Kusile back online and the flue-gas desulphurisation unit being bypassed, this means that an inordinate amount of toxins are being pumped into the atmosphere. Eskom has until 2025 to return that unit to service. It’s unclear what disruption this will cause to Eskom’s ability to generate power.

One can actually see how Kusile improved availability at the weekend. On X, formerly Twitter, Eskom reported that it was generating 27 165MW to meet a demand of 28 138MW on Friday evening. That’s pretty good and we’re glad to see Eskom and government at large taking this crisis seriously.


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