X

This is not a paywall.

Register for free to continue reading.

The news sucks. But your reading experience doesn't have to. Help us improve that for you by registering for free.



Please create a password or click to receive a login link.


Please enter your password or get a login link if you’ve forgotten


Open Sesame! Thanks for registering.

First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We write for you

It’s a public service and we refuse to erect a paywall and force you to pay for truth. Instead, we ask (nicely and often) that those of you who can afford to, become a Maverick Insider and help with whatever you can. In order for truth not to become a thing of the past, we need to keep going.

Currently, 18,000 (or less than 0.3%) of our brave and generous readers are members; which says a lot about their characters and commitment to our country. These people are paying for a free service in order to keep it free for everyone.

They are the true South AfriCANs.(Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

A respite from load shedding – but don’t put away t...

South Africa

ESKOM

A respite from load shedding – but don’t put away the candles

(Photo: Nadine Hutton / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Despite Eskom’s suspension of load shedding on Monday night, the power utility’s three-month outlook for demand and generation capacity indicates a high likelihood of continued load shedding until mid-April.

Eskom announced that it would suspend load shedding from 11pm on Monday, 18 January, after managing to improve generation capacity and return some generators to service.

The power utility returned two generation units at Kusile and Kriel power stations, and one at Tutuka Power Station to service, according to a media statement released on Monday. Two more units were expected to return to service on Tuesday, and emergency generation reserves have also been adequately restored, said the statement.

“While the supply situation has improved at this point, Eskom would like to request the public to continue using electricity sparingly as the system is vulnerable and unpredictable,” Eskom said in the statement.

About 39.7% of Eskom’s generation capacity was not available for service in the week of 4-10 January, according to Eskom’s Weekly System Status Report

The report indicates that for the week ending on Monday, 11 January, on average 13.36% of the utility’s plant was down for planned maintenance, 22.42% was down because of unplanned maintenance and 3.92% was out of service due to other outage factors.

Eskom’s official three-month outlook for energy demand and generating capacity, included in the report, indicates an increased likelihood of load shedding every week until mid-April. 

For seven of the coming weeks, Eskom predicts that it will “possibly” be 1,000 megawatts short of meeting its reserve margin, and for an additional six weeks it predicts that it will “definitely” be between 1,001MW and 2,000MW short of meeting its reserve margin and “possibly” demand.

“So the outlook is not good, and what you see in that forecast is not going to end in three months,” said energy analyst and MD at EE Business Intelligence, Chris Yelland

“One cannot assume that everything will be right after three months. Eskom has made it clear that we can expect these kinds of shortages for the next two years.”

Planned and unplanned breakages

The planned and unplanned breakdowns are caused by poor maintenance and the age of certain power stations, Yelland told Daily Maverick.

“The combination of planned outages, unplanned outages and other outages make a very significant part of Eskom’s fleet unavailable and the amount that is available is not adequate to meet the demand for electricity,” said Yelland.

Planned outages were relatively high at the moment because Eskom is carrying out increased maintenance, said Yelland. 

Currently, Eskom “has [about] 5,000MW of machines that are out on planned maintenance,” said Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha. At this time last year, 3,000MW were out, he said.

During South Africa’s hard lockdown last year, Eskom increased planned maintenance to 11,000MW because the demand was so low, Mantshantsha told Daily Maverick.

When these generators are placed on planned maintenance, it is the “unreliable generators” that need to meet the demand.

An increase in maintenance alone increases the risk of load shedding, said Mantshantsha.

South Africans will probably experience an “increased risk” of load shedding “until late this year”, he said.

“I think it’s fair to say that [load shedding] will be worse this year,” said Yelland, explaining that this was because “the old [generators] are getting older and, apart from Medupi and Kusile, no new generation plant is being contracted by the government”.

Impact of Covid-19

The pandemic has also affected Eskom’s ability to conduct repairs, Eskom said in a statement released on Sunday, 17 January.

At the Medupi Power Station there have been 48 Covid-19 cases in a pool of 75 contractors, which has “negatively affected” Eskom’s ability to execute work as planned.

“We have rising infections in our workforce and in our contracted teams,” Mantshantsha told Daily Maverick. This restricts the working ability of employees and contractors because they are forced to isolate and remain at home.

Mantshantsha said that Eskom had enforced stringent measures to manage the spread of Covid-19. 

“More than half of Eskom’s workforce, particularly office-based people, have been working from home (those that can) for as long as the lockdown has been in place, since March,” Mantshantsha told Daily Maverick. DM 

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 1

  • Ah, was waiting for the “COVID-19” excuse to be rolled out. Suave.
    One possibly but unlikely solution is to increase the feed-in from capped IPPs who have unused capacity on tap? Not much chance of that because the underlying narrative is “only nuclear generation can save us.” In actual fact, if ESKOM utilised the available IPP capacity we’d meet our grid demands.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted