Eskom’s reserve margin wiped out as Duvha boiler fails

April 2nd, 2014, Published in Articles: Energize


A leak in a boiler pipe at Eskom’s Duvha power station on 30 March 2014 has resulted in the loss one of its 600 MW generators. This is the same power station which suffered a conveyor belt failure in December 2013, depriving the boilers of coal, with a subsequent loss of generation output, which forced the utility to declare a power emergency. The utility’s spokesman, Andrew Etzinger, said that although the system is tight at present, no power emergency was declared when this unit was shut down because the utility’s reserve margin was able to accommodate the loss of this generator. The power station is 30 years into its 50-year design life and is currently undergoing mid-life refurbishment. This “incident”, as Eskom calls it, comes just 24 hours after the utility announced that the country had reduced its demand by just over 500 MW during Earth Hour, and at the start of pre-winter season. Electricity demand is expected to increase by at least 4000 MW (peak) in winter according to Eskom’s forecast for the April to August period. The boiler has to cool down for a few days before an expert assessment of the damage, and associated repair costs, can be made. In the meantime, the utility’s reserve margin is virtually non-existent, leaving the utility, and the country, in a vulnerable position.

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