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South Africa faces blackouts following silo collapse

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World Coal,

Blackouts in South Africa will continue though this week, Reuters has reported, following a coal silo collapsed at the Majuba power plant. The incident forced Eskom, the state-owned utility, to cut generation capacity in an already overstretched grid.

The collapse cut off supply to all six generation units at the 4110 MW plant. Debris could take up to two weeks to clear, Eskom said; in the meantime, the company plans to supply four of the units by trucking coal to mobile feeders.

The plant is currently generating 600 MW using coal bunkered in units 2 and 6 – about half of these unit’s capacity. This could be raised to 2400 MW through the week as the plant brings these and two other units back up to capacity using the trucked coal.

“Eskom has zero reserve margin and hence any incident now threatens power supply,” Anton Eberhard, a National Planning Commission member and professor at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, told Bloomberg. “It’s not easy to turn this situation around. This crisis points to the need to consider structural changes to the power market and greater opportunities for private players.”

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