Eskom’s Christmas gift to South Africa

Eskom will suspend load-shedding for most of Christmas Day before resuming stage 2 and stage 3 early next week.

The utility announced it would stop load-shedding for 24 hours from 05:00 on Sunday, 25 December 2022.

Between 05:00 on Monday, 26 December 2022, and 16:00 on Tuesday, 27 December 2022, stage 2 load-shedding will be implemented.

After that, Eskom will increase load-shedding to stage 3 until further notice.

Eskom said the suspension of load-shedding on Christmas Day was only possible due to the lower demand for electricity.

“Eskom appeals to all electricity users to conserve as much electricity as possible during this period,” the utility said.

It warned that the generation fleet remained unpredictable and vulnerable, which could necessitate load-shedding.

“Should there be multiple failures of generators, a higher stage of load-shedding may need to be implemented at short notice,” Eskom stated.

The table below shows the load-shedding schedule from 24 December 2022 to 27 December 2022.

Load-shedding schedule for 24-27 December 2022
Date Day Start time End time Stage
24 December 2022 Saturday 05:00 24:00 3
25 December 2022 Sunday 00:00 05:00 3
05:00 24:00 No load-shedding
26 December 2022 Monday 00:00 05:00 No load-shedding
05:00 24:00 2
27 December 2022 Tuesday 00:00 16:00 2
16:00 Until further notice 3

The brief suspension of load-shedding comes after Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the utility planned not to implement the power cuts on Christmas Day.

Speaking during Eskom’s 2021/2022 financial results presentation on Friday, 23 December 2022, Oberholzer said the utility would have to use a lot of its emergency resources to suspend the outages.

These include depleting water levels at its pumped storage dams and burning diesel to run its open-cycle gas turbines.

Despite load-shedding not being implemented for most of Christmas Day, it will be the first time that the rotational power cuts are in effect for any part of the day.

Eskom has never had to implement load-shedding during the week of Christmas as heavy energy users like factories and other industrial customers shut down operations for the festive period, significantly reducing electricity demand.

However, its coal-powered generating fleet recorded its worst performance ever in the past few weeks.

The tweet below from energy expert Chris Yelland shows the energy availability factor (EAF) across all of Eskom’s power stations for each week of the year from 2016 to 2022.

The EAF shows what percentage of their maximum installed capacity Eskom’s power plants were able to deliver at a given time.

Now read: “Imminent and direct” threat to Eskom infrastructure — Report

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Eskom’s Christmas gift to South Africa