Expect at least 10 more days of load-shedding

Eskom says it will take at least another ten days to recover its power generating capacity sufficiently to suspend rotational power cuts.

During an update on the state of its system’s performance on Monday morning, the utility’s CEO André de Ruyter said it had 14,4877MW capacity offline due to breakdowns. Another 4,335MW was down for planned maintenance.

He said a further 5,883MW of capacity was at risk because it included units operating with known defects that could trip.

Based on its current plan for load-shedding until Thursday, Eskom will implement stage 4 load-shedding during most of the day — between 05:00 and midnight — and stage 2 during the evenings — from midnight until 05:00.

On Friday, it will reduce the daytime load-shedding to stage 3.

The utility has now load-shed every day for the past three weeks.

Chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer explained that Eskom would “definitely ensure” load-shedding was reduced once the situation allowed.

“The intention is…in about ten days or so…we trust by then we will be in a position to lift load-shedding,” Oberholzer said.

Jan Oberholzer, Eskom chief operating officer.

According to Eskom System Operator general manager Isabel Fick, the utility has already implemented load-shedding on 73 days during the year. That is an increase of 44 days since the start of May 2022.

That means Eskom has implemented much more load-shedding than the 37 days it had anticipated under its base case, with an additional 1,500MW of outages during the winter period.

Its base scenario assumed unplanned outages of 13,500MW. It had also anticipated only up to stage 2 load-shedding.

With two and a half more months to go for Eskom’s winter period, it looks closer to hitting the 104 days of outages it had expected with 15,000MW of outages.

In the wake of the protracted unprotected strike by Eskom workers in recent weeks, unplanned availability has consistently been over 15,000MW.

Summer concerns

The figures are particularly troublesome given that Eskom’s load-shedding has historically been less severe during the winter than the summer.

EskomSePush co-founder Herman Maritz previously warned that there was a concerning trend in load-shedding preceding the winter period.

Typically, April is a quiet month for rotational outages, but this year it saw eight 24-hour cycles of load-shedding during the month.

According to CSIR data, Eskom had already shed over 90% of the total energy it cut from the grid in 2021 within the first six months of 2022.

Since Eskom implemented uninterrupted load-shedding for the first 11 days of July and plans at least ten more days of power cuts, 2022 has likely already broken 2021’s record as South Africa’s worst load-shedding year.

Making matters even worse is that load-shedding typically increases over the summer months from October to March when Eskom increases planned maintenance.

Now read: Ramaphosa to reveal new plan to end load-shedding

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Expect at least 10 more days of load-shedding