Eskom has published its summer load shedding forecast for 2022, with the power utility warning that its system is likely to remain constrained for the near future.
In a presentation on Thursday (27 January), the group said that it has not implemented load shedding since 19 November 2021, but that the generation side of the business remains a concern, specifically the availability of the coal power stations.
“Year-to-date Energy Availability Factor (EAF) at 62.9% is not at the targeted performance level,” said chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer. “A key contributor to the low EAF was high levels of planned maintenance over the summer months. The high levels of unplanned outages remain a concern, however, we continue to drive our reliability maintenance recovery programme to reduce these.”
Eskom’s data shows that most of its coal power stations are operating past the midway of their operational life, at an average of 42 years, resulting in high levels of breakdowns.
Oberholzer said that while load shedding was not desirable, Eskom would not sacrifice its long-term maintenance plans to reduce power cuts as it is seen as a necessary investment.
“The drive to implement the reliability maintenance and refurbishment projects in order to address the unreliability is underway to get the plant performance back to acceptable levels. The public is, therefore, cautioned to expect an elevated risk of load shedding while the reliability maintenance program is being implemented.”
This is reflected in Eskom’s outlook for the next 18 months, which shows that the power utility will rely heavily on diesel usage to meet its operational requirements.
- The solid black line in the middle reflects the demand;
- The blue segment is the conventional generation for Eskom’s fleet;
- The pink segment (which the black line overlaps) reflects diesel usage, which will be used to preserve what is in the yellow;
- Yellow represents the operating reserves;
- The green segment reflects the generation that will be out for planned maintenance.
Eskom provided further forecasts for load shedding based on unplanned unavailability over the summer and winter periods.
The group’s data shows that it expects up to 29 days of load shedding between the end of January and the end of March 2022, with stage 2 load shedding seen as the highest level of load shedding expected over this period.
Eskom said that South Africa could see a further 61 days of load shedding between 1 April 2022 – 31 August 2022, with up to stage 2 load shedding, depending on unplanned unavailability.
“The highest number of load shedding incidents took place during 2015. These tended to be mostly over evening peak periods, for a short duration, due to insufficient peaking generation capacity.
“In 2021 there were fewer load shedding incidents, but the energy (GWh) shed was higher than in 2021 because of open-cycle gas-turbine (OCGT) and pumped storage constraints,” the group said.
Eskom said that many of the load shedding incidents were necessary to replenish pumped storage dam levels overnight or over the weekend and ration diesel at the OCGT power stations while additional diesel was being delivered to these sites.
2021 had the highest number of load shedding hours (1,150 hours) as well as the highest energy not supplied (1,773 GWh) to customers. This amounted to 0.78% of the energy required by customers not being supplied.