Double trouble – South Africa heading for a new load shedding record

 ·19 Sep 2023

South Africa is on track to hit a bleak new load shedding record: by mid-October, the country would have been without power for double the amount of time as in 2022.

This is according to the latest projections in the Power Blackout Statistics report, compiled by independent energy analyst Pieter Jordaan.

While South Africans typically measure load shedding in hours in effect – 5,615 hours this year so far, and counting – Jordaan’s data looks specifically at blackout hours, or the time the average South African spends without any power during load shedding.

According to Jordaan, South Africans have already spent an accumulated 61.5 full days of blackouts in 2023 so far, equivalent to 1,476 hours of darkness.

This already far exceeds the levels of blackouts experienced in the whole of 2022 by some margin (34.6 days, or around 830 hours).

Load shedding in 2023 hit 2022’s total back in May – but now the country is on track to double the 2022 record by mid-October, Jordaan said.

The full-year outlook is that the country will see 86.1 full days of blackouts (2,066 hours), equivalent to spending about a quarter of the year in the dark.

Commenting on the latest load shedding trends, Jordaan noted that the 7-day blackout trend has shown a moderation, reflecting the recent de-escalation of load shedding by Eskom.

Load shedding on Sunday (16 September) was particularly notable as it afforded the country a full 18 hours of no load shedding at all – something South Africa had not seen since March 2023 when the country got a full-day suspension of outages on the public holiday.

“It took 180 days before South Africa could enjoy full power for 18 consecutive hours again,” Jordaan said.

However, despite the more recent easing of load shedding, the longer-term trends are not as positive.

Following a 91-day trend (or quarterly trend), load shedding has turned and is sharply rising following a decline since lower stages of load shedding in June. This is bringing it back in line with the 364-day trend (annual trend), which has been rising.

The annual trend reflects the implementation of permanent load shedding from September 2022, when the country has only experienced a handful of days where blackouts were not in effect.

Since September 2022, the average load shedding level has escalated by 2.7 stages to an average stage of 3.2 for the past 364 days.

Read: Unhappy birthday to permanent load shedding in South Africa

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