What Stage 9 load-shedding will look like

University of Johannesburg physics professor Hartmut Winkler says South Africans can expect to be without electricity for 12 hours a day, in a four-hours on, four-hours off rotation, under stage 9 load-shedding.

Winkler told the Sunday Times that stage 9 load-shedding is likely this winter as demand increases with nothing from the generation side able to compensate for the rise.

“If we are lucky and things hold, we will be at stage 4. But the likelihood is that we are going to be at stage 9, which is 12 hours without electricity with four hours on, four hours off,” Winkler said.

He explained that power generation unit breakdowns and Eskom’s ability to bring them back online would determine the intensity of load-shedding required.

South Africa has recently experienced load-shedding as high as stage 6, where outages are set in blocks of four and two hours.

Winkler’s prediction aligns with energy expert Clyde Mallinson, who forecasts a generation capacity shortfall of 11,000MW, which will result in 2,000MW of stage 4 load-curtailment and stage 9 load-shedding.

The remaining 9,000MW will be shed through stage 9 load-shedding, which Mallinson said will see residents without power for more than half the day.

Clyde Mallinson’s electricity shortfall forecast

“I hope if we do touch stage 9, it will be for very brief periods, like between 17:00 and 20:00 at night,” Mallinson said.

He urged South Africans to help address the electricity shortfall by not using heaters during cold winter nights.

Public Investment Corporation energy and infrastructure specialist Lungile Mashele told the Sunday Times that he expects Eskom to implement stage 10 load-shedding this winter.

However, his prediction doesn’t subtract load curtailment. It should be noted that from an economist’s perspective, load curtailment is actually worse than load-shedding, as it effectively cuts power from highly productive parts of the economy, like factories and mines.

Mashele said Eskom’s available generation capacity is around 25,000MW, while demand this winter could reach as high as 35,000MW.

“This is going to leave a 10GW shortfall, which is essentially stage 10,” Mashele said.

He said outages at the Kuslie and Koeberg power stations significantly contribute to this shortfall.

Eskom is set to outline its winter outlook to the nation this week.

Eskom hits load curtailment ceiling

South Africa has been experiencing varying stages of load-shedding in recent weeks, with levels peaking at stage 6.

However, the power utility has been on the brink of implementing stage 7 load-shedding on several occasions, with it running 19 open-cycle gas turbines and stage 4 load-curtailment.

Stage 4 load-curtailment is the highest level at Eskom’s disposal, suggesting that the power utility would have no choice but to implement higher stages of load-shedding if more units broke down.

Load-curtailment is a mechanism used by Eskom to reduce demand on the power grid from energy-intensive users like mines and smelters, who can’t switch their electricity use on and off because it will damage their businesses.

In return for their participation, these customers are compensated financially by Eskom and can be exempted from national stage 1 and stage 2 load-shedding.

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What Stage 9 load-shedding will look like