South Africa faces a record year for power outages after an explosion damaged one of Eskom’s newest coal-fired generation units.
The blast at the Medupi station on Sunday occurred during a process to find an external leak, according to preliminary findings. “At this point we do not have details as to what it will cost and how long it will take to repair the generator,” Eskom said in a reply to questions.
The incident threatens to unravel any progress made by the utility to improve performance and avoid more power cuts that have crimped the economy. It adds to South Africa’s woes, which is also struggling to emerge from the pandemic and last month’s deadly riots.
Eskom pledged in March that a maintenance drive to improve performance of its ageing fleet of coal-fired stations would start showing results from September. The incident at Medupi demonstrates the utility’s inability to prevent faults throughout the power grid.
Blackouts through the first half of 2021 were equivalent to about 70% of last year’s unprecedented outages, according to data from the CSIR. The latest incident will add cost and reduce the capacity of an already fragile system, Anton Eberhard, a professor at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, said in a post on Twitter. — Reported by Paul Burkhardt, (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP