New load shedding stages for South Africa – what you need to know

 ·17 Apr 2024

The National Rationalised Specifications (NRS) Association management committee chairperson, Vally Padayachee, says it is highly unlikely that South Africa will ever reach stage 16 load shedding, but the new stages approved by energy regulator Nersa mean that there is now a plan if we ever do.

Nersa approved and published the third edition of the NRS 048-9 Code of Practice at the start of April, introducing some changes to the load shedding structure in the country – the most notable of which is the extension of load shedding stages to stage 16.

The new load shedding structure splits up the full load (minus the 20% critical load) into load shedding blocks, with stage 16 being the new maximum where, effectively, power will be out for a full 32-hour cycle.

In a briefing this week explaining the new edition of the code, Padayachee said the document would ensure that South Africa’s systems operators—at Eskom and at the municipal level—have a plan for emergency situations.

He said that, prior to the new code, operators only had measures to assist them up to stage 8.

“If we went into a situation beyond stage 8, people in the operations centres would have gone into ’emergency and contingency mode’ to manage the required load shedding stages.

“In an emergency situation beyond stage 8—which we cannot rule out, notwithstanding Eskom’s current good performance—it becomes a bit more complex because you have less electricity load to ‘play’ with,” he said.

“Even though these people (system operators) are very competent, the propensity to make errors in an emergency situation increases.”

With the new load-shedding stages, South Africa has now “significantly mitigated the propensity of human error in people working in Eskom operation and municipal operation centres”, he said.

While the move from stage 8 to stage 16 is unlikely, the new stages can be used or relied on to assist in an emergency situation.

Padayachee said that since the code has been approved and published, it is now legally mandated.

The new stages are as follows:

StageLoad sheddingLoad curtailment
15% of demand10% reduction
210% of demand10% reduction
315% of demand15% reduction
420% of demand20% reduction
525% of demand30% reduction
630% of demand30% reduction
735% of demand40% reduction
840% of demand40% reduction
945% of demand50% reduction
1050% of demand50% reduction
1155% of demandEssential only
1260% of demandEssential only
1365% of demandEssential only
1470% of demandEssential only
1575% of demandEssential only
1680% of demandEssential only

The table below outlines how households will experience load shedding in terms of hours off. The blocks of time out increase by 2 hours until there are four 6-hour blocks at stage 12.

From stage 13, the blocks start merging, and customers would experience a full 14 hours without power (a 6-hour block immediately following an 8-hour block). By stage 15, this merges again to 30 hours off.

StageBlocks (32 hour cycle)Hours off
Stage 11 x 2-hour blocks2
Stage 22 x 2-hour blocks4
Stage 3 3 x 2-hour blocks6
Stage 44 x 2-hour blocks8
Stage 51 x 4-hour block, 3 x 2-hour blocks 10
Stage 62 x 4-hour blocks, 2 x 2-hour blocks12
Stage 73 x 4-hour blocks, 1 x 2-hour block14
Stage 84 x 4-hour blocks16
Stage 91 x 6-hour block, 3 x 4-hour blocks18
Stage 102 x 6-hour blocks, 2 x 4-hour blocks20
Stage 113 x 6-hour blocks, 1 x 4-hour block22
Stage 124 x 6-hour blocks24
Stage 131 x 14-hour block, 2 x 6-hour block26
Stage 142 x 14-hour blocks28
Stage 151 x 30 hour block30
Stage 16Power off32

Read: The truth behind Eskom’s load shedding success

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