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Eskom forecasts ‘light’ load shedding in winter after 30-day break from rolling blackouts

Eskom forecasts ‘light’ load shedding in winter after 30-day break from rolling blackouts
Illustrative image | Sources: The cooling towers of Eskom’s Lethabo coal-fired power station in Vereeniging. (Photo: Leon Sadiki / Bloomberg via Getty Images) |

The power utility anticipates about 50 days of load shedding during the winter season, and a diesel cost of R8.8-billion to run its emergency gas turbines.

Eskom has forecasted that this winter will be lighter in terms of energy interruptions than during winter 2023, with the power utility anticipating that it can stave off higher stages of load shedding.

Eskom’s top brass proffered the power utility’s winter forecast in a press conference on Friday, 26 April. New Eskom CEO Dan Marokane and the company’s head of generation Bheki Nxumalo gave the presentation on the outlook for the winter season. 

For winter 2024, Marokane said the likely scenario indicates that load shedding will be limited to Stage 2. This is premised on a scenario of between 14,000MW–15,500MW of unplanned outages (breakdowns).

If this scenario plays out, Eskom could throw South Africa into darkness for 50 days in winter. (In winter 2023, South Africa had about 153 days of load shedding, and blackouts fluttered between Stage 3, 4 and 6, according to the power utility.)

If unplanned breakdowns surpass 15,500MW, then Eskom’s “worst-case” scenario could become a reality, and there could be as many as 103 days of power outages, with the highest load shedding stage being Stage 5. 

“We really think that on the basis of what we see; the performance of the fleet — load shedding will stay within Stage 2 from a planning perspective,” said Marokane.

Eskom CEO Dan Marokane. (Photo: Gallo Images/Financial Mail/Trevor Samson).

Lights on in month before Elections ‘24

A month before the general election, the lights are on. South Africa has had 30 consecutive days without rolling blackouts, the longest streak in more than a year. 

In 2023 — the darkest year on record — the country experienced rolling blackouts on 335 of 365 days. The blackouts contributed to another year of lacklustre economic growth in the country.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has called the streak before a general election a “coincidence”, saying it’s because of the progress Eskom is making in solving the country’s power crisis. 

However, the reason for the lull in load shedding this year compared to the same period last year, is because demand for Eskom grid electricity continues to decline, energy analyst Chris Yelland penned in an Op-ed. This, Yelland says, is because of South Africa’s weak economy and the resulting generally flat overall demand for power, the increasing cost of Eskom electricity, load shedding and the low reliability of Eskom grid electricity, and the move to alternative energy sources by Eskom customers.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Why is there less load shedding? There’s a fundamental change taking place in SA’s electricity sector

Marokane said “what is yielding this performance of no load shedding, is actually the capacity coming from the improvement in generation performance” but acknowledged that “the demand is also declining slightly”.

Frequency declined 

“The frequency and intensity of load shedding in the past year has also declined,” said Marokane, adding that Eskom was not out of the woods yet. But it is a trend that is encouraging. 

Winter is traditionally a nail-biting season for Eskom’s grid, which sees a rise in demand. Last year was particularly dim as the power utility headed into winter on the back foot, with about 3,000MW of generation capacity less than it had the previous year. 

The opposition has expressed scepticism about the 30-day lull in power cuts, questioning its timing ahead of the elections. The DA, in a statement this week, said: “The continued use of OCGTs (Open Cycle Gas Turbines) to augment power supply has raised credible concerns Eskom may be creating an illusion of improved electricity supply — with load shedding having been suspended for the past 23 days by Eskom burning copious quantities of diesel.”

However, Nxumalo said Eskom is currently “quite prudent” in burning diesel. DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    Surprise, surprise- as of 30 May…. loadshedding will return! The reasons for the decrease in loadshedding- poor economic performance, the incredibly poor performance inhibiting investment and driving people and businesses to get off the grid in droves, and the substantial use of diesel for open gas turbines, is certainly not cause for hope for real improvement of the electricity system, or for the country’s future.

  • J dW says:

    2024 – ANC and EFF form a new government with Malema and Floyd occupying two ministerial posts.
    2025 – Cyril ‘retires’ from politics. Mashatile becomes president with Malema as deputy.
    2027 – EFF merges back into the ANC at the next conference.
    2029 – Malema becomes president.

  • Jan Vos says:

    Old song:

    “How the hell can we believe you?
    How the hell can we believe you?
    How the hell can we believe you?
    You lie, you bugger, you lie.”

  • Derrick Kourie says:

    ” Nxumalo said Eskom is currently “quite prudent” in burning diesel.”
    What does “quite prudent” mean? Since Nxumalo is head of power generation, he should be able to quote hard data to back up his claim. Specifically, what percentage of power currently generated relies on OCGT, compared to a month ago, a year ago, the average over the last year, etc. In the absence of hard facts, we are entitled to be deeply skeptical.

  • Niek Joubert says:

    Why are the robots at the cnr of Republic Rd and Malibongwe in Randburg frequently out, as well as other robots in Republic Rd? I have a feeling that there is load shedding, just applied surreptitiously.

  • Ritey roo roo says:

    Oh for heaven’s sake. You can’t believe a word they say about load shedding. Please

  • Hannes Vander Berg says:

    “Coincidence” my #¥?*!!
    Do these people really believe everyone out here is brain dead?
    I don’t know how many voters you will be able to con, but Mr Marokane I guarentee you before mid June I will be reminding you of your Stage 2 promises.
    Then we will be looking at reality and not political games!

  • peter selwaski says:

    What a surprise! 😏

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    “”Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has called the streak before a general election a “coincidence”, saying it’s because of the progress Eskom is making in solving the country’s power crisis.””

    A great many people also fell for dollar couch guy’s new dawn and gordhans dot connecting. There was another remarkably coincidental period of uninterrupted power generation when we hosted our BRICS friends. It was followed by an equally coincidental reversal as they jetted off back to their totalitarian paradises. We have no shortage of credulous muppets to buy the pathetically thin BS these glorious liberators sell so I’m sure there are masses of them queuing up for a serving of this one. There’s not a hint of hard evidence to suggest that more maintenance and less looting is occurring so the prudent amongst us would be well advised to prepare for at least as much darkness as we had this time last year.

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