How South Africa’s lockdown will impact load shedding this winter: Eskom CEO

Eskom chief executive officer Andre de Ruyter says that the extended lockdown period has enabled the power utility to carry out much-needed maintenance, which significantly reduces the likelihood of load shedding during the coming winter months.

De Ruyter said in a parliamentary briefing on Wednesday (6 May), that the lockdown resulted in a drastic reduction in demand for electricity while allowing Eskom to continue with maintenance.

While the group is still modelling post-lockdown demand, De Ruyter indicated that the country may only experience sporadic stage 1 load shedding in the coming months.

“After lockdown we will see the initial 31 days of stage 1 load shedding that we had anticipated for the next quarter being reduced to only three days.

“This is based on partial load losses being reduced by 2,000MW. We are taking advantage of the very unfortunate circumstances that are associated with this global pandemic,” he said.

While this is the most likely scenario for load shedding in the country (scenario 1), De Ruter also provided other more severe scenarios based on the unreliability of the current Eskom system.

These three scenarios are outlined below:

Scenario 1

Load shedding Number of days expected
Stage 1 3
Stage 2 0
Stage 3 0

Scenario 2 

Load shedding Number of days expected
Stage 1 49
Stage 2 3
Stage 3 0

Scenario 3

Load shedding Number of days expected
Stage 1 21
Stage 2 49
Stage 3 3

De Ruyter pointed to a ‘dramatic reduction’ in demand for electricity, which will ipact the group’s bottom line.

“We have seen a reduction in cash-generation for April of some R2.5 billion. The full financial impact will still need to be assessed,” De Ruyter said.

The chief executive said that Eskom intends to procure an additional 900 megawatts of power before the end of the year to boost generation capacity.

Municipal generation 

De Ruyter’s presentation comes after mineral resources and energy minister, Gwede Mantashe published new draft regulations which permits municipalities to apply to the minister to establish new generation capacity.

This comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address in February that municipalities in good standing will be able to develop or procure their own power generation.

The draft regulations state that this application must be done in accordance with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and must:

  • Be accompanied by a detailed feasibility study;
  • Demonstrate sound financial standing of the municipality;
  • Be aligned to the Integrated Development Plan of that municipality.

The draft regulations are open for public comment for 30 days after publication within the gazette (5 May).

“The draft amendments are aimed at clarifying the regulatory regime applicable to municipalities for procurement or development of power generation capacity,” said the Department of Energy in an accompanying statement.

“The amendments will ensure orderly development that is in line with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019) and municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).

“Furthermore, the amendments will also ensure that section 34 determinations by municipalities are feasible as they will be issued on the basis that they are supported by a feasibility study with minimum requirements as spelled out in the regulations.”

Read: New regulations will allow South African municipalities to buy and generate their own electricity

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How South Africa’s lockdown will impact load shedding this winter: Eskom CEO