What to expect from stage 8 load-shedding

Eskom recently implemented stage 6 load-shedding in South Africa, marking the worst rotational blackouts ever experienced in the country.

The power utility attributed the implementation of stage 6 load-shedding due to a technical problem at Medupi power station, which resulted in a further shortage of capacity.

“We remind and assure customers that load-shedding at Stage 6 is no cause for alarm as the system is being effectively controlled,” Eskom told South African consumers.

The implementation of stage 6 caused an uproar among South Africans, many of whom were not aware of how they would be impacted due to a lack of available information.

Some municipalities and apps such as EskomSePush did not supply load-shedding schedules beyond stage 4, leading to confusion as to how people would be affected by stage 6.

Eskom and municipalities have now supplied more information regarding stage 4-8 load-shedding.

The impact of Stage 8

While stage 6 load-shedding requires 6,000MW to be shed from the national power grid, stage 8 requires 8,000MW to be cut.

As a general rule, the higher the load-shedding stage, the more frequently customers will experience load-shedding and the more people will be affected.

According to Eskom, stage 8 load-shedding will result in customers having electricity for 50% of the day.

Following the implementation of stage 6 load-shedding, City Power has published the full stage 1-8 load-shedding schedule on its website, which gives some idea of how customers would be affected.

The extent of power outages under stage 8 are severe compared to previous stages. Looking at Block 1A under the City Power load-shedding schedule, the power outage schedule for the first day of any given month is as follows:

Load-shedding stage Outage periods
Stage 1 00:00 – 04:30
Stage 2 00:00 – 04:30
Stage 3 00:00 – 04:30
Stage 4 00:00 – 04:30, 16:00 – 20:30
Stage 5 00:00 – 04:30, 16:00 – 20:30
Stage 6 00:00 – 04:30, 16:00 – 20:30
Stage 7 00:00 – 04:30, 16:00 – 20:30
Stage 8 00:00 – 04:30, 10:00 – 14:30, 16:00 – 20:30

The above trend is true for all suburbs in municipalities supplied by Eskom that experience load-shedding, with power outages increasing in intensity and severity as load-shedding increases in stages.

The infographic below provides more details regarding stage 8 load-shedding.

Eskom load-shedding infographic

Wet coal and corruption

Eskom has attributed its capacity shortage to a number of factors – citing everything from unplanned power unit losses to wet coal and boiler leaks.

Speaking in an interview on Jacaranda FM, energy expert Ted Blom said that wet coal, conveyer belt failures, feeder failures, and flooding all contributed to the recent implementation of stage 6 load-shedding.

“The wet coal seems to be part of the problem,” Blom said. “There seems to have been a confluence of events at Eskom, something that one would normally hope wouldn’t happen simultaneously.”

He added that the biggest problem with the state-owned power utility, however, is corruption.

“It seems to me that a big part of the problem is corruption,” he said, adding that Eskom’s coal procurement process may be impacted by corrupt deals.

“Fine coal is normally limited to 10% of total coal delivery because it can cause a problem with the logistics.”

“It seems to me that Eskom is buying excess of fine coal and they are paying a premium price for stuff that has no commercial value, and that is part of the corruption because that allows for bigger kickbacks,” he said.

He added that barring any other setbacks, Eskom should be able to restore the units lost to boiler leaks in about a week and reduce the severity of load-shedding.

Further failures could result in load-shedding becoming even worse, however, and stage 8 could be a real possibility in the future if major failures occur.

Now read: Worst blackouts in South Africa’s history

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What to expect from stage 8 load-shedding