Eskom said the power system is under severe pressure and warned that South Africans should prepare for more power outages in the coming weeks.
Speaking to the Cape Town Press Club, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said more load-shedding is expected this winter.
“It is likely that we will have increased load-shedding going forward. There is always a risk of load-shedding in the system,” he said.
He said the persistent risk of load-shedding is because of the lack of predictability and reliability because of a lack of maintenance.
He explained they have to take down generation units to do maintenance and refurbishments, which in turn may lead to load-shedding.
“If we do not take down the units and do the maintenance, the risk of significantly worse load-shedding is simply going to increase.”
He said the only option is to take down the units and implement load-shedding. “We simply don’t have alternatives,” he said.
De Ruyter said the risk of load-shedding will diminish over time as Eskom carries out the mid-life refurbishments.
Load-shedding during winter
De Ruyter’s warning comes after Eskom implemented seven days of load shedding in July, exceeding the company’s prediction of only three days of load-shedding this winter.
At the time Eskom said this load-shedding was caused by a series of unplanned breakdowns and the coldest winter in a decade.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshansha said that during the lockdown, the power utility used the reduction in demand to execute a significant amount of short-term maintenance on its system.
This helped Eskom to recover close to 3,000MW of generation capacity that was not available prior to the lockdown.
“On the other hand, the challenges presented by working through the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown have meant that some of the reliability maintenance (longer) outages had to be deferred or outage scopes reduced,” he said.
This longer maintenance will have to be accommodated later in the year to improve the reliability of major power plants.
Despite these issues, Eskom has succeeded in adding capacity to its grid during the lockdown.
This was not enough, however, to cope with the freezing-cold temperatures experienced across the country during the winter season.