Stage 6 load shedding not on the cards for winter: Eskom

 ·26 Apr 2024

Power utility Eskom says its projections for load shedding this winter suggest that outages should not go further than stage 5 in the worst-case scenario – and will more likely be limited to stage 2.

Presenting the utility’s Winter 2024 outlook on Friday (26 April), new Eskom chief executive officer Dan Marokane said that Eskom’s performance over the last year had improved significantly, putting it in a much stronger position ahead of the coming season compared to last year.

For Winter 2023, while there were fears that load shedding could hit stage 8 or even beyond, Eskom managed to stay within the targetted ranges of load shedding, sticking to a range of stage 2 to stage 4.

Since the 2023 winter outlook, the power utility has continued to boost performance – reducing unplanned losses by 9% and unit breakdowns by 19%, Marokane said.

New Eskom CEO Dan Marokane

This has led to a measurable improvement in operations, including less frequent and less intense load shedding – to the point that April has not seen any outages, and load shedding has been kept at bay for 30 consecutive days.

As a result, there has been a reduction in the unreliability assumptions for winter 2024 of about 1,000MW.

On top of this, the utility wants to target a 1,700MW reduction in unplanned losses and approximately 400MW of additional demand-side management initiatives.

This should limit load shedding to stage 2 in the coming winter months, where demand tends to increase.

In the target or planned-for case (outages at 15,500MW), South Africa is expected to see 50 days of load shedding, either at stage 1 or 2.

However, the current system performance is leaning towards the base case (14,000MW of outages), which will see only five days of stage 1 load shedding.

Marokane noted that in the “extreme” case, where the group suffers breakdowns exceeding 17,000MW, the range pushes up to between stage 2 to stage 5 over 103 days, which remains a risk.

Energy availability

Addressing Eskom’s low energy availability factor (EAF), Eskom chair Mteto Nyati said that, while the power utility missed the target of 65% EAF by the end of March 2024, it actually came close.

He said that EAF is currently around 61%, which is close to where the group expected it to be.

Eskom’s persistently low EAF was attributed to the high levels of maintenance being done, which is slowly being reduced in preparation for winter demand.

Group executive for generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said that EAF is a function of losses and maintenance and needs to be understood in the context.

The group is still targeting 70% EAF by 2025.

Orage = Outages | Grey = Maintenance | Blue = EAF

Nxumalo said that performance should improve moving forward as more capacity comes online, including approximately 800MW from Medupi unit 4 in September.

Read: Big shift for load shedding in South Africa – and who to thank

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