Eskom’s load shedding outlook for the rest of 2023

 ·27 Sep 2023

Power utility Eskom has outlined the outlook for load shedding for the rest of the year and early 2024 and the country enters its summer months.

Acting Eskom chief executive, Calib Cassim said South Africa got through the winter months better than expected, with lower-than-planned demand and improved generating capacity.

Despite this, stage 6 load shedding was still implemented for 39 of the 153 winter days, he said, with outages averaging between stage 3 and stage 4.

Average unplanned losses over the evening peaks were at 16,420MW compared to 16,554MW in the previous winter.

This is something the group hopes to improve on for the summer months, the acting CEO said, where Eskom hopes to limit load shedding to below stage 4 and unplanned outages contained under 14,500MW.

There are some hopeful measures that will aid this – most significantly, bringing close to 3,000MW back online at the Kusile Power Station in the coming months.

Cassim noted that Koeberg Unit 1 will also be coming back online – adding close to another 1,000MW; however, Unit 2 will be taken offline around the same time, so this won’t be adding anything to the grid on a net basis.

In addition to the Kusile and Koeberg moves, Eskom said it hopes to bring 1,500MW from Tutuka online in January, 1,752MW from other losses by March 2024, and 720MW from Medupi by the middle of 2024.

However, the group stressed that there are still a lot of challenges relating to these recoveries that need to be overcome.

Summer outlook

Taking this into account, Eskom is basing its outlook on three main scenarios, which is modelled on available data.

The group said that the scenarios are not predictions, but give an indication of how the utility has to move to keep the grid under control.

If everything goes well and the utility is able to keep unplanned outages under 14,500MW, load shedding should be able to be limited to a maximum of stage 4.

However, if breakdowns exceed this – pushing to 16,000MW for example – load shedding will be more frequent and at higher stages.

The worst case scenario (planned for, at least), if Eskom loses 3,000MW more than planned – ie, 17,500MW of outages – load shedding could push beyond the current max of stage 6 and hit stage 7.

This is similar to the structure of scenarios ahead of the winter period, where South Africans were warned that load shedding could hit stage 8. In reality, this never occurred, which shows how unpredictable the situation can be.

Regardless, the outlook is clear that load shedding is not going anywhere in the next six months.

Cassim noted that the scenario for September is already worse than the base case, but he insisted that every effort is being made to keep the system in the best-case scenario.

Read: The big load shedding mystery that still escapes us

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