Broken Promises: Why South Africa’s Load-Shedding Problem Continues

South African energy analyst Chris Yelland recently spoke out against false promises from South Africa’s ministers regarding the end of the country’s much-maligned power outages. Yelland called for more credible plans from senior officials, as they attempt to put an end to the ongoing problem. A number of high-ranking ministers have recently claimed that load-shedding could be coming to an end within the next year, with the finance minister, energy minister, and minister of electricity all offering varying estimates of when the issue could be resolved fully.

However, Yelland isn’t convinced that those promises are credible in any way. He cited a lack of substance behind the productions, saying that conflicting messages have been sent out by government officials. Some of these predictions were ambitious, to say the least, with estimates ranging from six months all the way up to two years before improvements could be seen. Meanwhile, Eskom’s forecast predicts that severe load-shedding could occur almost every week for the remainder of the year.

The energy availability factor, or EAF, is directly linked to load-shedding, and a reliable calculation of it is vital to reducing power outages. Plans have been made to increase Eskom’s EAF to up to 75%, with some ministers – including the energy minister himself – suggested that this could be achieved within just six months. However, Yelland warned that such predictions are misguided, as the EAF has been in decline for the past five years. Meanwhile, a total of 90 generators need repairing, meaning you cannot maintain or fix them at the same time. As such, the EAF trend is a continuous process that cannot be changed overnight.

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Yelland went on to state that the EAF is expected to continue to decline for the rest of the year, which is concerning for all involved. Promises need to be underpinned by achievable goals, and realistic plans must be put in place if South Africa is to see an end to load-shedding any time soon. Increasing the EAF should be viewed only as a starting point, and long-term conservation measures are required to reduce demand for electricity. Ultimately, without a concerted effort, the country could continue to suffer a hard year ahead.