Can South Africa Survive Load-Shedding Beyond Stage 6?

Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa says that South Africa’s power grid won’t collapse despite increasing load-shedding that’s expected as winter approaches. In an interview with 702, he clarified that measures have been put in place to ensure the integrity of the grid is maintained. While load-shedding at Stage 6 is already devastating, Ramokgopa says anything beyond this stage could have disastrous consequences, and certain public works and other sectors would not be able to operate. Here is what we know so far.

Assurances from the Minister

Ramokgopa says that a total system collapse won’t occur as a network operator will maintain it to prevent blackouts. He explained that there is about 2,000MW of reserve margin meant to protect the network, which they still have not met, but they are not close to a blackout.

The Situation May Be Worsening

Ramokgopa believes that the situation’s risk of further deterioration is very high. He warns that¬†anything beyond Stage 6 means facing16 hours with no electricity every 32-hour cycle. Production becomes impossible under those conditions, and other critical systems like waste-water treatment works and data centres will be compromised.

Possible Intervention Measures

Ramokgopa explains that in discussing possible interventions with Eskom and the government, they will protect data centres, hospitals and national key points by procuring more power from neighbouring countries. The demand can also be reduced in households by disconnecting geysers remotely or by using technology that has a market offer. He adds that if need be, they will procure emergency power sources like generators to keep strategic installations running.

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Economic Impact of Load-Shedding

Ramokgopa noted that load-shedding is having significant damage on the country’s economy, and according to modelling done by the South African Reserve Bank, the current Stage 6 load-shedding will cost the economy upwards of 800,000 jobs. Also, original equipment manufacturers in the automotive industry may lose profits that are likely to affect their operations if Eskom goes beyond stage 5 for load-shedding.

Conclusion

As South Africa faces the winter season, load-shedding will intensify, and a total system collapse is not far from happening. However, the Ministry of Electricity assures the public that their measures will prevent a blackout, and a total system collapse is not in the offing. With possible interventions such as procuring additional power, remote disconnection of geysers and procurement of emergency power sources, South Africans may just make it through the winter. But the Minister warns the situation may get worse unless these interventions are implemented.