Eskom faces a tough winter this year as its energy generation continues to be constrained, meaning load-shedding is likely to continue.
Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter recently stated that the risk of load-shedding would remain for the next few years and would be especially acute as the power utility struggled to conduct crucial reliability maintenance on its ageing power generation fleet.
Data published in the power utility’s latest State of the System report showed a dire outlook for the rest of the year, with increased demand putting pressure on Eskom’s energy generation during the winter months.
Since 1 January 2021, there have been 19 days of load-shedding, 17 at stage 2 and two at stage 3.
These rolling blackouts were brought about by a number of factors, including the following:
- Shortage of generation capacity
- Increased unplanned unavailability
- Increased planned maintenance
- The need to conserve and replenish depleted emergency resources
- Poor coal and compromised emissions performance
As load-shedding continues this week, Eskom has implored South Africans to continue to use electricity sparingly so that it can mitigate the degree of rolling blackouts.
Energy capacity outlook for 2021
Eskom has published a summary graph of its capacity outlook for the next 12 months.
From the graph, it is immediately apparent that during months of historically high demand, Eskom operates on a knife-edge between burning reserve energy and the need to implement rolling blackouts.
Major disruption to Eskom’s generation capacity during these periods, such as the power unit outages seen this month, would likely lead to nationwide load-shedding.
It is important to note that Eskom shows 10,000MW of UCLF (Unplanned Capability Loss Factor) and dynamic amounts of PCLF (Planned Capability Loss Factor) in its outlook. These terms refer to unplanned outages and planned maintenance, respectively.
Outages may be higher than the amounts predicted by these factors, and the available capacity being constantly below peak demand shows that load-shedding will remain a constant risk.
Eskom noted that it plans to continue burning diesel throughout periods of high demand this year to minimise load-shedding.
However, the need to continue long-term reliability maintenance and accommodate for unplanned breakdowns will most likely lead to continued load-shedding – a warning echoed by Eskom executives yesterday.
Eskom’s capacity outlook graph for the next 12 months is shown below.