South Africa


Eskom implements Stage 4 blackouts as 31 days lost to load shedding so far this year

Eskom implements Stage 4 blackouts as 31 days lost to load shedding so far this year
Illustrative image | Sources: Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images ) | Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla) | Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: ESA Alexander / Sunday Times) | Electricity transmission pylons. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | A coal delivery truck at the Eskom Matla coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Power lines in the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay, Cape Town. (Photo: Dwayne Senior / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | An instrument panel at the Eskom Lethabo coal-fired power station in Vereeniging. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Winter is biting and Eskom is tempering peak demand with evening blackouts. And it looks as if things may well get even worse.

Eskom moved the national grid to Stage 4 in a matter of hours on Monday after announcing Stage 3 load shedding at a morning briefing. 

In a state-of-the-system briefing last week, Eskom said that 31 days had so far been lost to scheduled power cuts in 2022 — the highest on record for this period. 

With winter biting (not in Cape Town, which is sweltering) and demand increasing, the utility introduced evening power cuts from May, but COO Jan Oberholzer warned that this could move to day-long scheduled cuts if more units break down.

The graphic shows that almost the entire coal-fired fleet — including the new Kusile and Medupi stations — break down regularly. Koeberg, the nuclear-powered plant, has been in maintenance and is coming back online slower than planned, adding to the pressure.

All in all, this has made the system “unreliable and unpredictable”, said Oberholzer, who addressed a public briefing with a top Eskom team. 

Eskom’s acting head of electricity generation, Rhulani Mathebula, said South Africa’s grid is “very vulnerable” and that his team is working around the clock to deal with units regularly going down. 

To keep the lights on, Eskom is burning through two million litres of diesel a day at its open-cycle gas turbines. It has used 40 million litres this month so far.

For the year to date, it has spent R6.4-billion on running the turbines. 

Diesel prices are spiking because Russia’s war against Ukraine has changed the way fuel is being sourced and used around the world.

The Eskom executives who appeared on the briefing call looked exhausted, suggesting there’s a human cost to staving off Stage 8 power cuts and a collapse of the national grid. 

Jacob Zuma, Yesterday’s Man of power politics

Last week, Eskom’s head of generation unexpectedly resigned. Phillip Dukashe quit, he said, because of the toll the job was taking on his family and his life. 

The energy availability factor in South Africa is at 62%; very low compared with the basket of like-for-like countries. Eskom’s own target for the year is 82.7% energy availability, and 2022 is quickly shaping up as South Africa’s worst year for energy. 

Eskom executives have repeatedly said that the grid urgently needs between 4,000MW to 6,000MW of new capacity. However, red tape and rent-seeking are holding back new power generation. 

Neither Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan nor Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has briefed the nation on the latest electricity crisis, which is causing increased protests among the country’s poorest communities. 

This chart shows how Eskom’s energy availability is steeply lagging behind even European utilities where coal-dependency is being managed down as part of the transition to renewables. DM


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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Joe Soap says:

    Even the two new power stations, Kusile and Madupi, are tripping. This is besides the fact they are not generating at the rate they should. Don’t think it is old infrastructure, think it is the lack of skill.
    Also suspect sabotage as Eskom’s management tries to put an end to the looting at Eskom.

    Eskom can also stop with the narrative: We are monitoring the grid closely. We only implement load shedding as a last result. Neither of these things reduces load shedding. Get people who know how to fix and run power stations, if there are any left in SA.

    • Dragan KostaKostic says:

      An Economic Hit Man Confesses and Calls to Action

      John Perkins describes the methods he used to bribe and threaten the heads of state of countries on four continents in order to create a global empire and he reveals how the leaders who did not “play the game” were assassinated or overthrown. He brings us up to date about the way the economic hit man system has spread from developing countries to the US, Europe, and the rest of the world and offers a strategy for turning this around. “Each of us,” he says, “can participate in this exciting revolution. We can transform a system that is consuming itself into extinction into one that is sustainable and regenerative.”

  • Dragan KostaKostic says:

    South Africans are suffering so corrupt big business can profit !!!

    Karpowership’s R3.3 billion-per-year ‘freebie’ thanks to Nersa’s slip-up

    As Karpowership and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe battle to keep the risk mitigation independent private power procurement programme (RMI4P) alive, documents scrutinised by amaBhungane appear to disclose the extent to which Eskom is expected to pay the Turkish powership group for “nothing” under a generous “take-or-pay” provision.
    While the figures are only available for Karpowership’s bids, the same skewed demand and supply ratios would apply to other RMI4P bids, underlining criticism of the design of the tender which results in much higher pricing than necessary.
    When the three controversial powership projects belonging to the Turkish Karadeniz group applied for generation licences to the National Energy regulator of SA (Nersa) they requested that almost all meaningful economic data be kept secret when a decision is published.
    The secrecy has been widely lambasted, but it appears that Nersa slipped up when it approved the licenses and published the three heavily redacted reasons-for-decision documents on 29 October.

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