2022 is already South Africa’s worst year for load-shedding — with 170 more days to go

Data from the popular load-shedding app EskomSePush (ESP) shows that 2022 will either become the worst year of load-shedding within the next few days or already has, depending on how you measure it.

ESP co-founder Herman Maritz provided MyBroadband with the latest total number of days of load-shedding the app measured over the past year.

Should Eskom stick to its planned load-shedding schedule for the rest of the week, it will have implemented more hours of the rotational power cuts than in the entire 2021 by Wednesday, 13 July 2022.

While Eskom System Operator general manager Isabel Fick recently said that the utility had implemented 73 days of load-shedding as of 11 July 2022, this figure refers to any day during which load-shedding was in effect.

Even if load-shedding were only implemented during the peak evening demand hours, it would count as a day.

EskomSePush instead calculates load-shedding days based on the cumulative time spent in rotational power cuts.

Therefore, it would take 24 hours of load-shedding to count as a load-shedding day.

For example, if Eskom implemented stage 2 load-shedding for six hours a day during the week, it would take four such stints to count as a day of load-shedding.

While less indicative of how many days South Africans had to consult their schedules to see if they had load-shedding in their area, the figure is a more accurate representation of the severity of load-shedding.

According to ESP, Eskom had implemented 46 days of load-shedding by the morning of Monday, 11 July 2022. That is only two 24-hour cycles short of the entire time it implemented load-shedding in 2022.

The chart below shows the number of load-shedding days from 2018 to 2022. It also indicates the frequency of different stages of power cuts during each year.

The graph reveals that there have been substantially more hours of stage 4 load-shedding than in 2021.

In addition, there have also been several hours of stage 5 and stage 6 load-shedding, which never occurred during 2021.

These factors suggest the total energy shed in gigawatt-hours (GWh) through load-shedding could have already exceeded 2021’s levels.

That is the metric used by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to calculate how much load-shedding was implemented over a period.

According to the CSIR, Eskom had cut 2,276GWh of electricity in the first six months of 2022. That was more than 90% of the 2,521GWh it shed for the entire 2021.

Using ESP’s comprehensive record of data on the times of load-shedding stages, MyBroadband calculated that Eskom passed that figure only three days into July 2022.

By midnight on 3 July 2022, it had shed an additional 252GWh, putting the total amount of energy shed through load-shedding at 2,528GWh.

The week after that, Eskom shed a further 556GWh, meaning it had cut 3,084GWh in total during 2022 as of Sunday, 10 July.

Stage 5 and stage 6 load-shedding significantly impact the total energy shed, as just last week’s load-shedding was equal to almost a quarter of the entire year up until 30 June 2022.

The chart below shows how the energy shed compares between 2018 and 2022.

Former CSIR researcher Jarrad Wright performed a similar analysis using Eskom’s manual load reduction figures and concluded that South Africa broke its 2021 load-shedding record on 8 July 2022.

It now remains to be seen exactly how much worse load-shedding will be over the entire year compared to 2021.

Historically, load-shedding has been more severe during the summer months, when Eskom takes more generating units offline for planned maintenance.

The chart below shows how the cumulative hours of load-shedding increased every month from 2015 to 2022.

2016 and 2017 are not included because no load-shedding occurred during those years.

Now read: Eskom chief nuclear officer Riedewaan Barkadien resigns to emigrate

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2022 is already South Africa’s worst year for load-shedding — with 170 more days to go