Eskom kisses full code red goodbye

Eskom’s outlook on generation shortfalls in the next year has turned a corner. The power utility’s latest forecast shows substantial improvements from the start of the year, indicating a big decline in the amount of load-shedding that will be necessary in the next 52 weeks.

For its first system status outlook in January 2024, Eskom expected to have a shortfall of more than 2,001MW under both its planned and likely risk scenarios throughout the year.

Eskom uses the following colour-coding to indicate the expected severity of its capacity shortfalls:

  • Green — Sufficient capacity to meet demand
  • Yellow — Less than 1,000MW capacity short to meet demand
  • Orange — Between 1,001MW and 2,000MW capacity short to meet demand
  • Red — Over 2,001MW capacity short to meet demand

Under both the planned and likely risk scenarios for all weeks in 2024, Eskom had expected it would be over 2,001MW short of capacity to meet demand, which meant the colour-coded section was completely red.

That forecast suggests at least stage 2 load-shedding would be implemented every week of the year. Eskom’s latest forecast in week 18 of 2024 shows a drastic positive swing in the overall outlook.

While there are still many weeks with red in the latest table, there are now three weeks in 2024 where it anticipates it will be able to meet demand under the planned risk scenario.

There are also several weeks under the planned risk scenario for which Eskom expects to be less than 1,000MW or 2,000MW short of meeting demand under this risk level.

In addition, Eskom lowered the amount of assumed unplanned breakdowns. Its UA was reduced from 16,000MW in the first 12 weeks of 2024 to 14,000MW from week 13.

As a result, the planned risk scenarios dropped from 18,200MW to 16,200MW, and the likely risk scenario from 20,200MW to 18,200MW.

The tables below compare Eskom’s system status outlooks in weeks 1 (Before) and 18 (After) of 2024.

Load-shedding has not been implemented for over a month and a half. Eskom attributed this achievement to a sustained improvement in generation performance.

The improved performance resulted from extensive planned maintenance during the summer period and the implementation of its Generation Operational Recovery Plan from March 2023.

“The concerted efforts to address unplanned outages, also known as the Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor (UCLF), have resulted in a further reduction in the UCLF from 11,036MW to 10,474MW week-on-week,” Eskom said. “This proves that our generation fleet is gradually becoming more reliable.”

Eskom said this was better than the winter forecast for this year, which anticipated unplanned outages to range from 14,000MW to 15,500MW.

It has also recorded a substantial reduction in demand through increased uptake of private rooftop solar, enabling the utility to keep its emergency capacity reserves at adequate levels to meet demand in peak periods.

Independent energy expert Chris Yelland has labelled Eskom’s significant UCLF reduction as “rather dramatic”. The figure had dropped by five percentage points — from 30.56% to 25.56% — from week 17 to week 18.

Yelland said this was unexpected as unplanned breakdowns had hovered around 30% for the first 17 weeks of 2024.

The big decline in unplanned breakdowns resulted in the week-on-week energy availability factor (EAF) rising sharply from 58.60% to 62.08%, better than in 2022 and 2023.

Yelland previously said it would be near-impossible for Eskom to improve its EAF and that the best it could hope for was to keep the metric at roughly the same level.

The graphs below show the changes in Eskom’s weekly UCLF and EAF in 2024 and how this compares to previous years.

It should be noted that a lower UCLF is better. Click to enlarge
A higher EAF indicates better overall generating fleet performance. Click to enlarge

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Eskom kisses full code red goodbye