South Africa’s state-owned utility resumed nationwide power cuts Thursday and warned of worsening shortages from its aging and unreliable plants that have led to the most intense outages on record.
Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has cut 1,382 gigawatt hours of power so far this year, the most since at least 2007, when the utility began struggling to meet demand, according to a report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a state institution. At 661 hours, it’s the second-longest duration of outages to date.
The utility cut 2,000 megawatts from the grid Thursday after delays in returning some units to service and said that power rationing, known locally as load shedding, may intensify to about 3,000 megawatts due to lower capacity and breakdowns. Supply could be constrained through the weekend.
An urgent response is essential to address the gap between power supply and demand, the CSIR said.
Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter said Tuesday that by September demand for power is expected to return to levels seen before lockdown measures were introduced in March to control the coronavirus pandemic.
The utility is developing a business plan for a “greener” utility as the price of renewable technology declines, he said.
Private developers are awaiting progress on a government plan to procure renewable power, in addition to other initiatives to increase supply.