June 22 (Reuters) – South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom said it would extend rotational power cuts until Sunday night, after four more of its generation units broke down.
The company’s coal-fired power station fleet is highly prone to faults, and government plans to add additional capacity to the national grid have been sluggish.
Eskom said in a statement that “Stage 2” power cuts were now planned between 1000 and midnight local time (0800 and 2200 GMT) on Wednesday, whereas previously they were only due to start at 1700 local time.
Stage 2 outages will resume from Thursday at 0500 until midnight local time every day until Sunday night.
Eskom’s chief operating officer, Jan Oberholzer, said in a call with reporters that power cuts could escalate to “Stage 3” or higher if more breakdowns occurred.
“We need additional capacity in the country,” Oberholzer said, adding that the power system remained unreliable and unpredictable.
He said South Africa needed 4,000-6,000 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity as soon as possible. Eskom’s total nominal capacity is around 46,000 MW.
“Stage 2” outages require up to 2,000 MW to be shed from the national grid, with each higher stage requiring an additional 1,000 MW to be shed.
(Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Alexander Winning and Louise Heavens)