Eskom contradicts Ramokgopa – forecasts more crippling blackouts over the coming months
Eskom officials have forecast that there will be rolling blackouts (between stages 1 and 3) every day during December and January — except for six days. And that is the best-case scenario. The electricity situation looks dire for most of 2024 and early 2025, with demand on the rise and uncomfortable levels of unplanned blackouts.
A forecast by Eskom officials on the state of SA’s electricity system has shown that there will be consistent blackouts in December and January — contradicting the recent claims made by Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Eskom officials recently delivered a presentation detailing that the country will still be subject to deep power cuts in December and January.
Daily Maverick has seen the 30-page presentation dated 22 November.
The officials forecast that there will be blackouts (between stages 1 and 3) every day during December — except for three days. This is the best-case scenario, which relies on fewer unplanned breakdowns at Eskom power stations. The worst-case scenario involves load shedding of between stages 4 and 6 every day during December, with no respite. A similar best and worst-case scenario is forecast for January.
Eskom has forecast that the peak residual use over December and January will be between 23,000MW and 27,000MW, while planned outages (usually a result of generating units at power stations being taken offline for maintenance) are expected to be between 6,800MW and 10,100MW.
Exacerbating this situation is that unplanned outages (usually as a result of a breakdown in electricity generating units) are forecast to be above 16,000MW. In most scenarios during December and January, electricity shortfalls of more than 4,000MW are forecast by Eskom officials, necessitating the implementation of rolling blackouts.
Even for most of 2024 and early 2025, the electricity situation looks dire, with demand being on the rise and uncomfortable levels of unplanned blackouts being recorded, which puts the entire system in jeopardy (see below).
Arguably, the table above paints a picture of Eskom and the government being unable to fix the power crisis that undermines the economy and investments in the country and harms the quality of life.
The forecast by Eskom officials is in stark contrast to the promise made by Ramokgopa during his briefing on 26 November, when he assured the media there would be fewer blackouts over December and that some days would be free of blackouts.
Ramokgopa said electricity demand during December was expected to be lower against a backdrop of lower industrial demand, adding that this would make it possible to suspend blackouts on some days.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘We were never at Stage 8’ — Ramokgopa dismisses speculation Joburg hit a load shedding record
However, December is usually dicey for the electricity situation as hotter conditions during the month make power stations and their parts more susceptible to overheating and breakdowns. This has been the case going back seven years.
Read more on Daily Maverick: Renewables help generate rare good news on Eskom’s winter blackouts
Ramokgopa has also pinned his hopes for an improved electricity situation in December on the return online of units 2 and 5 at the Kusile Power Station, which would provide Eskom with “sufficient capacity” to stave off high levels of blackouts.
In a response to questions by Daily Maverick, Eskom said the forecast is based on assumptions of unplanned losses (that are not predicted and seen in failures and breakdowns in generating units) and the demand for electricity. “The expected load shedding based on these assumptions is a combination of the higher than aspiration unplanned losses and higher than expected demand,” said Eskom.
- Article updated to include Eskom’s comments.