Energy experts are warning that 2023 may be the worst year on record for power outages in South Africa. This could have a significant impact on businesses, consumers, and food production prices.
A report from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research shows that last year was the worst year for load shedding in the country until now. Unfortunately, Eskom’s ongoing maintenance issues and the need for additional capacity could make this year even more challenging. The report states that last year there was load shedding for 3 773 hours with an upper limit of 11 529 GWh relative to actual energy shed of 8 301 GWh.
Energy economist Lungile Mashele has stated that last year’s load shedding was cumulatively higher than the preceding decade. Furthermore, he warns that this year has already exceeded the most consecutive days of load shedding on record. Mashele believes that we can expect load shedding every week this year, and it will get worse in winter.
David Lipschitz, an energy resilience expert, said Eskom’s inability to supply businesses with power would be catastrophic for the country. He suggests that the faster distributed and embedded generation is installed, the faster Eskom can be able to supply its core customers who employ most of the people in South Africa.
Professor Wikus van Niekerk of Stellenbosch University adds that it is impossible to make an accurate prediction on the year ahead, as Eskom does not even know which power stations may trip, forcing them to a higher level of load shedding.
On the other hand, Professor Irrshad Kaseeram from the University of Zululand’s economics department warns that load shedding in 2022 saw a 200% increase compared with the average for previous years. He adds that the government needs to come up with convincing and sustainable solutions to this problem.
Mervyn Abrahams, programme co-ordinator at Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group, says consumers will struggle with food purchases this year, and load shedding will cause prices to increase. He adds that the Eskom electricity tariff increase of over 18%, granted by Nersa, will come into effect this year, leading to more hard times for the consumer.
Energy experts warn that 2023 could be the worst year on record for load shedding in South Africa, with a significant impact on businesses, consumers, and food production prices. It is essential for the government and Eskom to come up with sustainable solutions to address this ongoing issue.