In a disheartening update from South Africa’s electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, delivered a sobering message to the nation: there will be no quick fix to the ongoing issue of load shedding. As the country grapples with Stage 6 power cuts, a prognosis for the next four years reveals a challenging road ahead.
The recent intensification of power cuts by state-owned utility Eskom led to the country’s plunge into Stage 6 blackouts. Ongoing and long-term power cuts are now threatening to continue for weeks on end as Stage 6 shutdowns will continue over and above planned maintenance. If we bring the sudden breakdown of generating units into the mix, consumers are looking at severe constraints in generation capacity.
Eskom’s Efforts to Strengthen the System
Minister Ramokgopa shared Eskom’s recent efforts to fortify the system. With a history of negligible maintenance that led to a drop in generating capacity, Eskom says it has now embarked on a proactive strategy to reinforce its infrastructure. Ramokgopa affirmed they will “stick to planned maintenance, we’re going to stick to philosophy maintenance.” But he also recognised that this plan would intensify load shedding.
The Bleak Forecast: Load Shedding Until 2027
Thanks to a financial boost from the National Treasury, Eskom has some room to breathe, allowing it to funnel more resources into maintenance. But things will get worse before they get better. A medium-term adequacy report released by Eskom paints a bleak picture, forecasting load shedding to continue until 2027. The report underscores the challenges faced by Eskom, both internally and externally, indicating that the utility’s generation fleet is expected to decline, and there is a negative outlook for the coming years. As a result, the system will struggle to fully meet demand.
Understanding the Energy Availability Factor
The report suggests that Eskom’s energy availability factor is projected to range between 58% and 67% at the end of 2027. This factor, which measures the actual electricity generated compared to the maximum potential generation, underscores the gravity of the situation. An energy availability factor below 70% implies that power cuts are expected to persist.
The Daunting Supply Gap
Perhaps the most alarming revelation from the report is the projection of a widening supply gap. In 2023, the anticipated supply gap stands at 18 terawatt hours (TWh), an already concerning figure. However, in the worst-case scenario, this deficit is predicted to skyrocket to a staggering 30 TWh by 2027.
To put this into perspective, 18 TWh is roughly equivalent to the entire generation output of Matla power station when running at full capacity. Matla, boasting an installed capacity of 3,500MW, underlines the magnitude of this energy deficit. This shortfall places significant strain on South Africa’s industries, businesses, and households
Management-Related Issues and Acts of Sabotage
Eskom’s head of generation, Bheki Nxumalo, mentioned that Stage 6 load shedding is expected to persist, but the stages will vary as units return to service. However, there are concerns about management-related issues that are impeding maintenance efforts. There are valid suspicions that certain individuals within Eskom may be involved in acts of sabotage, and allegations of fraud and corruption are under investigation.
Internal Eskom security and investigators from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (commonly known as the Hawks) have claimed that individuals at Kusile and Tutuka power stations may be involved in these acts of sabotage. Even more shocking, there’s suspicion that some elements within management might be protecting the alleged saboteurs. Arrests have been made, such as a worker at Tutuka power station who was nabbed for allegedly stealing hydraulic oil worth over R800,000.
Addressing South Africa’s Load Shedding Challenge
It’s abundantly clear that load shedding remains a pressing issue in South Africa, with a complex web of problems affecting the nation’s electricity supply. While efforts are underway to address these issues, the road ahead is long and challenging. South Africans must brace themselves for ongoing load shedding as the country grapples with the task of revitalising its electricity infrastructure. With South Africa facing the daunting prospect of persistent load shedding, it’s clear that finding a reliable solution is more crucial than ever. That’s where S&A Generators come in as a silver lining.
At S&A Generators, we offer a range of generator solutions to suit the needs of homeowners and property owners. Our services include generator sales, installations, and maintenance, ensuring reliable backup power during load shedding. We pride ourselves on providing high-quality products and services and are committed to ensuring your satisfaction. Contact us today to find light in these dark times.