South Africa could face Stage 11 power cuts in a matter of months

Energy expert Clyde Mallinson has warned that South Africa could face stage 11 load-shedding in winter unless Eskom significantly improves its power station performance.

Mallinson, a director at Virtual Energy and Power and Clean Energy Projects, made this prediction during a load-shedding forecast presentation.

He created a load-shedding forecast matrix using Eskom’s coal-fleet energy availability factor (EAF) and the expected winter electricity demand.

“Based on Eskom’s coal fleet’s performance, we can predict what load-shedding we are going to have,” Mallinson said.

If Eskom’s coal fleet maintains an energy availability factor of over 45% in June, South Africans can expect stage 8 load-shedding. However, if the EAF drops to 40%, load-shedding will reach stage 11.

He highlighted that Eskom’s coal fleet’s EAF dropped to below 40% in January, February, and April, which means it is a distinct possibility in winter.

Mallison warned that South Africa would be “on the edge” during peak times in winter, with demand far outstripping supply. “We can go beyond stage 11,” he warned.

The chart below, courtesy of Clyde Mallinson, provides an overview of the expected load-shedding based on Eskom’s coal fleet EAF and expected demand.

Winter load-shedding forecasts

Mallinson’s load-shedding forecast aligns with information shared by other experts, including Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

Ramokgopa said Eskom faces a shortfall of 8,000MW to 10,000MW in winter, which equates to stage 10 load-shedding.

The minister explained that Eskom’s overall energy availability factor (EAF) averages 53%, resulting in a significant gap between generation capacity and electricity demand.

It should be noted that the EAF referred to by Ramokgopa differs from Mallison’s as it includes other forms of energy generation like nuclear.

He explained that they needed around 6,000MW to close the gap between supply and demand during summer.

“On average, Eskom can guarantee us about 27,000MW, and we know that peak demand in summer is about 32,000MW,” Ramokgopa said.

The situation changes significantly during winter, when the average demand is around 35,000MW, peaking at 37,000MW.

With a guaranteed supply of 27,000MW, South Africa faces a shortfall of between 8,000MW and 10,000MW during winter. It translates into stage 8 to 10 load-shedding.

If this scenario is to be avoided, the supply of electricity must be increased, electricity demand must be decreased, or both.

Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association of South Africa said that Eskom is reviewing the load-shedding framework to prepare for load-shedding to exceed stage 8 in the future.

It is a proactive measure for Eskom and municipalities to be ready to respond should it be necessary.

“Eskom’s grid is at a critical stage, and no professional can guarantee that South Africa could not go beyond stage 8 load-shedding,” he said.


This article was first published by Daily Investor and is republished with permission.

Now read: Goodbye Eskom — How much it costs to go off-grid

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South Africa could face Stage 11 power cuts in a matter of months