When Eskom stopped implementing load-shedding in December, the company stated that it expected a reprieve until 15 January as business shut down for the holidays.
After Eskom started Stage 2 load-shedding in 2018, energy analyst Ted Blom said South Africa should prepare for years of gloom.
Despite telling South Africans to prepare for load-shedding in the new year, however, Eskom has not announced any power cuts in 2019.
The utility has, unfortunately, not responded to questions about how it has been able to keep the lights on.
Energy expert Chris Yelland explained that Eskom’s data on outages and peak demand will answer the questions
Reduced peak demand and outages
Eskom’s weekly status update reports show that peak electricity demand is much lower than at this time last year, which means that pressure on the system is not as high as originally anticipated.
They also show that between the first and second week of the year, Eskom reduced the outages on its network from 37.75% of its maximum capacity (46,292MW) to 32.84%.
In week 4 (21-27 January), the planned and unplanned outage factor was 34.74% of maximum capacity.
Comparing the three-month outlook in the first week of 2019 to that of the fourth week of the year also shows a dramatic shift in Eskom’s estimation of the risk of load shedding.
Eskom forecasts the demand versus available generating capacity for each week over the coming three months, and the forecast assumes unplanned outages of 8,500MW – reducing it to 7,500MW from 1 February, and 6,500MW from 1 April.
At the beginning of the year, Eskom planned for a shortage of capacity and the possibility of load-shedding from the third week of January.
It also considered load-shedding a “likely risk scenario” from the first week of February.
By week four, however, the outlook had changed dramatically. Currently, Eskom does not consider load-shedding a likely risk.
This is shown in the forecast tables below.
The key to read the tables is:
- Green: Adequate generation to meet demand and reserves.
- Yellow: < 1,000MW possibly short to meet reserves.
- Orange: 1,001MW – 2,000MW definitively short to meet reserves and possibly demand.
- Red: > 2,001MW short to meet demand and reserves.
3-month outlook – Week 1, 2019
3-month outlook: Week 4, 2019
Load-shedding can still happen
While Eskom’s week 4 status report is promising, it should be noted that if the number of unexpected breakdowns at power stations exceed Eskom’s assumptions, it could quickly change the picture.
Eskom is also in a financial mess, and expects to report a record annual loss of R15 billion on 31 March – and has told the government that its situation is unsustainable.
It has requested the government to take on some of its R419 billion debt, and has applied for permission to raise prices by 15% per year in South Africa for the next three years.