Major load-shedding victory for South Africa

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says the fact that Eskom can suspend load-shedding for an entire day is a “major victory” for South Africa.

During a briefing to update South Africa on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan, the minister said the country has “turned a corner” regarding load-shedding, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.

“We are not out of the woods, but we have turned a corner,” said Ramokgopa.

“We are not out of the woods because we are experiencing load-shedding, even if it’s of lesser intensity,” he said.

“The fact that you can go for a day, whether it’s a weekend or a weekday, without load-shedding. It’s psychological. It’s a major victory.”

Ramokgopa said reduced demand coming out of the winter months has allowed Eskom to increase its planned maintenance by approximately 2,000MW.

“When we entered the period of May, that number [planned maintenance outages] was sitting at 3,120MW,” he said.

“As I speak to you, planned maintenance is sitting at 5,381MW, so there’s been a 2,000MW increase in planned maintenance relative to May 2023.”

“It is made possible by the fact that demand is coming down. We are using the opportunity of demand coming down to accelerate planned maintenance,” added Ramokgopa.

This is not unusual. Eskom announced that it would reduce planned maintenance to avoid higher stages of load-shedding during the winter months. It then ramps up maintenance in warmer months when demand is lower.

According to Eskom’s load-shedding updates, planned maintenance reached a low of 2,269MW and peaked at 4,524MW during winter.

“It’s an improvement, the fact that we are taking out an additional 2,000MW without the degradation of the intensity of load-shedding; I think this is something to be welcomed,” said Ramokgopa.

He said demand has reduced by approximately 4,000MW.

The minister said peak demand averaged 31,000MW in May 2023. This figure dropped to around 27,000MW as South Africa came out of winter.

Ramokgopa said the reduced demand allows Eskom to invest more in the maintenance of its generation units.

He added that this would be noticeable during “times of difficulty”, such as in winter next year.

“You will see that during times of difficulty, and difficulty in this instant means when demand is going to spike when we go into the next winter,” said Ramokgopa.

“We are ready for that winter, and we shouldn’t be seeing the intensity of load-shedding that we have been experiencing.”

The minister said that among the aspects of Eskom’s operations that need improvement, outage slips will receive significant attention.

“The area of outage slips is receiving our attention. We have improved from an average of 3,400MW. We are now sitting at 1,100MW,” he said.

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Major load-shedding victory for South Africa