Some good news for load-shedding — but it’s not over

Civil engineer Hügo Krüger says South Africans will face load-shedding between stages 1 and 2 for at least the next two years, with the intensity of power cuts improving thanks to the imminent return of Kusile’s generating units.

During an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Krüger said the return of Kusile’s offline generating units, which has now begun, is critical to ending load-shedding in South Africa.

“I’m optimistic. There are two keys for South Africa to end load-shedding. One is Koeberg, and one is Kusile,” he said.

“If what the minister says is true, South Africans can take a little bit of relief from this.”

By this, Krüger refers to electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s claim that Eskom will ramp up Kusile’s third generation unit to 800MW of capacity.

During a media briefing on Sunday, 1 October 2023, the minister said he wants to bring the generating unit to full capacity in the near future.

Krüger, while optimistic, says South Africans can expect stage one and two load-shedding next year with Kusile’s generating units returning to service.

“I still suspect we will have stage 1 and 2 load-shedding up and down next year, given the high variance in the system, but this is good news coming, and if Eskom delivers, well done to them,” he said.

“If you look at Medupi, which is a similar design to Kusile. Medupi is performing quite well after all of its hiccups. I am reasonably confident, but your guess is as good as mine.”

Krüger said he is sceptical about whether Eskom will get the generation unit to run at maximum capacity.

“I would say that I’m sceptical if you can run it at full capacity yet. The minister said he’s going to ramp it up and he wants to run it at 800MW,” he said.

Eskom’s Kusile power plant flue gas duct failed, taking three generation units offline.

“Remember, the election year is coming, and Sputla [Ramokgopa] wants to stake his political career on fixing Eskom. If he does that, well done to him.”

“I’m a bit sceptical if we’re going to get full capacity. So, I don’t think we will be out of stage 1 and 2 load-shedding even next year,” added Krüger.

Eskom itself recently forecast regular stage 4 load-shedding between September 2023 and March 2024.

The state-owned power utility held a State of the System media briefing on Wednesday, 27 September 2023, where it revealed a bleak load-shedding outlook for the spring and summer period.

While the power utility said it would likely avoid exceeding stage 4 load-shedding during the summer months, it anticipates between 11 and 19 days of load-shedding per month will be necessary up to March 2024.

The power utility used three scenarios to predict the maximum level of load-shedding that could be implemented over the summer months.

It should be noted that it has increased the breakdown loss assumptions for each scenario, taking into account how much it underestimated unplanned losses last summer.

The best-case scenario assumes a load loss of 14,500MW, under which Eskom anticipates 116 days during which load-shedding must be implemented.

The most common load-shedding stage experienced under this scenario will be stage 4, with 11 to 19 days of load-shedding every month.

The medium-risk scenario assumes 16,000MW of losses, which would see Eskom implement load-shedding on 187 days out of the 213 days.

Eskom forecasts a load loss of 17,500MW and 211 days of blackouts for its worst-case scenario, with regular stage 6 load-shedding and a maximum of stage 7.

The table below summarises Eskom’s load-shedding outlook for the summer 2023/2024 period.

Now read: Eskom updates load-shedding schedule — here is the new timetable

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Some good news for load-shedding — but it’s not over