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African National Congress President Cyril Ramaphosa claims that South Africa “has turned a definite corner as far as loadshedding is concerned”, adding that the levels and frequency of loadshedding are expected to improve during the fourth quarter.

In closing remarks following the party’s National Executive Committee meeting, Ramaphosa attributed this claim to the “return of Kusile units, embedded generation by private households and businesses, and demand management”.

Earlier Eskom announced that Kusile Unit 1 had resumed production using a temporary flue a few days short of a year of having been rendered inoperable by the collapse of its flue duct on October 23, 2022, because of an uncontrolled build-up of slurry.

The failure also made two other units inoperable as the Unit 1 flue collapse damaged the unit two and three flues, which share a common chimney with the Unit 1 flue.

Eskom said Unit 1, which has a nameplate capacity of 800 MW but is contracted to supply 720 MW into the grid, had been returned a month-and-a half-ahead of the original schedule.

The utility did not say how much electricity from Unit 1 was currently entering the loadshedding-prone system, but indicated that Kusile Unit 3, which resumed production on September 30, was producing 800 MW consistently and supplying 720 MW into the grid.

The 80 MW difference arises as the station uses electricity, known as parasitic load, to run various systems that do not contribute to electricity yield.

“This signifies that Eskom is on the right path to reducing and ultimately ending loadshedding,” Eskom said in a statement.

Kusile Unit 2 is officially scheduled to resume production on November 30 and Eskom did not provide any immediate indication as to whether it was able to beat that deadline.

Before the units could resume production, Eskom sought and received a postponement, until March 31, 2025, to Kusile’s compliance with minimum emission standards in relation to its sulphur dioxide emissions, as the temporary flues bypass the flue gas desulphurisation plant.

Currently four Kusile units are on load, including Unit 4, which was unaffected by the flue collapse as its flue duct is in a separate chimney.

Kusile Unit 5, which was damaged by a fire ahead of commissioning, was being prepared for synchronisation to the grid towards the end of December.