Scary load-shedding statistic revealed

If Eskom could implement 2022’s load-shedding continuously, the rotational power outages would have lasted for roughly four months without interruption.

That is according to data published by the well-known load-shedding app EskomSePush.

EskomSePush recently published a tweet showing Eskom had implemented 2,881 hours of load-shedding in 2022 by 17:29 on Monday, 21 November.

That is equal to 120 days of load-shedding, which works out to about four months of continuous rotational power outages.

With load-shedding set to continue for at least the next few days, it is likely that South Africans will have endured load-shedding being in effect for well over a third of the year.

These figures make for dismal reading on their own but are even scarier compared to the previous worst years of load-shedding.

Load-shedding would only need to be in effect for about three of the six weeks remaining in 2022, for the length of this year’s outages to reach triple that of 2021.

Last year, the country endured 1,153 hours of load-shedding, equal to about 48 days.

It would only take another 20 days of load-shedding to quadruple the 844 hours — or 35 days — implemented in 2020.

The graph below from EskomSePush compares the amount of load-shedding implemented from 2015 to 2022.

In addition to the outages being in effect for much longer than in previous years, the severity of load-shedding has worsened substantially.

While stage 2 load-shedding has remained the most frequent level of power cuts, it has been implemented for longer in 2022 than in any previous years.

2022 also saw much longer periods of stage 3 and stage 4 being in effect than in many years before.

In addition, stage 5 and stage 6 were implemented over several days during the year. Previously, stage 6 had only been implemented for a few hours in 2020.

Making the outlook in the coming months even worse is that Eskom does not plan to run its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to provide an additional generation buffer during peak demand periods.

Over the weekend, the utility revealed it had already spent over double its budget on diesel for its entire 2022 financial year, which only ends on 31 March 2022.

OCGTs were initially only intended to be used for emergencies to avoid a possible blackout if several power stations were to fail simultaneously.

However, they have become a necessity for supporting the country’s electricity needs during peak demand hours while avoiding load-shedding going beyond stage 6.

Ageing power plants, employee negligence, and sabotage collapsing generation capacity

Eskom’s generation capacity has continued to suffer from tripping generating units at its ageing coal power stations.

But the shortages have been exacerbated by several instances of serious employee negligence, including:

  • Failure to build a containment shed for replaced steam generators of Koeberg Unit 2, cutting 900MW from the grid for several months due to adjusted maintenance schedule and delays in return to service of the unit.
  • Collapse of flue-gas duct at the Kusile Power Station was reportedly caused by faulty design and bad management, taking three 800MW units off the grid with a total capacity of 2,400MW. At least one of these units will remain offline for several months.
  • Explosion of a generator at Medupi Unit 4 was caused by hydrogen leak not picked up by employees, cutting about 700MW from the grid until October 2024.

In addition to the above, the utility has alleged that some of the trips of its generating units were deliberately caused by saboteurs within the organisation.

It recently apprehended a maintenance contractor who had intentionally removed the bearing oil drain plug from one of the units at Camden Power Station, causing the burners to trip repeatedly.

The worker confessed he had done so to secure more work at the station for his company.

Aside from sabotage, a lot of Eskom’s high-quality coal has been stolen by the truckloads in recent years and replaced with low-quality coal and coal byproducts that end up damaging its generating units.

Now read: South Africa talking with more countries to help fund coal power shutdown

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Scary load-shedding statistic revealed