Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says that instability around Eskom’s generating systems makes it difficult to give a timeframe as to when load shedding will end in South Africa – but insists that the government is working on a set of measures to create more certainty.
Answering in an oral parliamentary Q&A session on Wednesday (17 November), Gordhan said Eskom was dealing with units at power stations that create uncertainty: some units appear to be well functioning, but then sometimes stop working due to disruptions or other sudden factors.
Gordhan said that these issues would largely be mitigated when Eskom adds additional capacity to its grid.
“Load shedding is going to be significantly less likely if Eskom has 4,000 – 6,000MW extra available so that these (incidents) – intentional or otherwise – can then be absorbed as part of the malfunctioning of certain units.”
“We want to tell the country – we want the same certainty, as a government, that every citizen wants. Hopefully, we can announce a further set of measures soon which can provide some of that certainty.”
Ending load shedding
In a separate briefing to parliament on Wednesday, Gordhan said that adding additional electricity to the grid will be key to ending power outages to the country.
“Our aim certainly, is that load shedding must end sooner rather than later. It will end, in particular when we have extra megawatts in the system.”
Gordhan said that there are also other factors, including maintenance, which must be resolved before the country can begin to see the end of load shedding.
“All of these factors are causing an immense amount of frustration amongst our people…whether they are residents, whether they live in working-class areas or middle-class areas, and whether they are large or small businesses,” he said.
“What we require as government…is an integrated response to this crisis. One which ensures that each role player does what is necessary and does it timeously and does it with the necessary sense of urgency in order to ensure that the work that needs to be done to stabilise Eskom can indeed take place.”
He said that Eskom would go through a period of change for some time.
“Currently, we’ve got to repair what we’ve got to repair. Secondly, (we have) the restructuring or unbundling process and thirdly, we’ve also got to introduce the changes that are required in terms of the just energy transition…and implement the nationally determined contribution that South Africa put on the table at COP 26.
“That will have an impact both in respect of pollutants but carbon emissions more generally,” he said.
Stage 2 load shedding
Gordhan’s comments come after Eskom announced that stage 2 load shedding will be implemented from 14h00 on Wednesday (17 November) until 05h00 on Saturday (20 November).
The power utility said the outages are due to the ongoing insufficient generation capacity and the loss of a unit each at Medupi, Duvha and Kendal power stations this morning.
“Stage 2 load shedding will be implemented from 14h00 today until 05h00 on Saturday 20 November. This is to preserve the remaining emergency reserves at the OCGT and pump storage power stations in order to prevent higher stages of load shedding.
“Of the five units that failed yesterday, a unit at Majuba, Kriel and Matimba power stations have returned to service while the remaining two units are undergoing boiler tube leak repairs.”