Power utility Eskom says that generating capacity has been stable this week, allowing it to keep suspending outages during the day.
The group said that load shedding will continue to be suspended from midnight until 16h00 each day, and moving to stage 3 in the evenings (16h00 to 00h00) until further notice.
If the group can avoid any short-term shocks, this will make it the second week in a row that it has been able to suspend load shedding for extended periods.
The utility first announced significant suspensions at the start of June – surprising many as June marks the first official month of winter.
South Africans have been warned for months that winter load shedding would be the worst on record, with many energy experts and analysts sounding the alarm on stage 8 or even higher hitting households.
Eskom itself warned of grid pressure and tough times in winter.
However, contrary to these warnings, the grid has been the most stable it has been in almost a year, with load shedding not moving beyond stage 4.
Broadly, the change in load shedding and better performance of the grid can be attributed to the following:
- A reduction in planned maintenance, cutting up to 4 stages of load shedding
- A reduction in unplanned outages to around Eskom’s planned levels of 15,000MW
- Increased wind energy generation due to stormy weather
- Lower-than-expected demand (32,000MW vs 35,000-37,000MW)
- Higher electricity tariffs in winter, curbing industry use
- Changes to Eskom’s management structure
- A boost in morale at Eskom
For people living in the major metros, load shedding schedules are available here:
- City of Johannesburg
- City of Ekurhuleni
- City of Tshwane
- City of Cape Town (PDF)
- Nelson Mandela Bay
- Buffalo City
For access to other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on loadshedding.eskom.co.za.
Smartphone users can also download the app EskomSePush to receive push notifications when load shedding is implemented, as well as the times the area you are in will be off.
Even though energy availability and load shedding have improved, Eskom’s power grid is still susceptible to disruptions and can change at any moment.
Therefore, any additional breakdown or excessive cold weather could result in the previous pattern of higher load shedding stages being put in place again.
South Africa is currently managing a delicate equilibrium between energy supply and demand, where the slightest alteration on either side could cripple the system.
Plans to fix this imbalance in the government and Eskom are long-term, going up to 24 months from now when the system should finally attain long-term stability.
By early 2024, units that had long periods of downtime at Kusile and Medupi will be restored, and next year, several separate energy ventures will become operational.