National power provider, Eskom, has stated its expectation that daytime load shedding will carry on throughout the weekend, with a projected 16-hour suspension planned only for Sunday.
Load Shedding Rotation
Eskom confirmed that the current routine of load shedding – suspension between midnight and 05h00, stage 1 till 16h00, and stage 3 continuing into the evening – is to persist till Saturday. However, on Sunday, load shedding will be suspended from midnight till 16h00, followed by stage 3 in the evening.
The suspension will be maintained on Monday until 05h00 or until Eskom releases further information.
Reasons for Extended Load Shedding
This increment in load shedding is attributed to a slight rise in breakdowns leading to 15,100MW of generating capacity being offline, and the generating capacity under scheduled maintenance climbing to 5,252MW.
In the past day, Eskom managed to bring a generating unit at Arnot Power Station back online. Yet, a unit at Matimba Power Station was taken off the grid due to a breakdown, and the delay in restoring two units at Tutuka Power Station is adding to the current capacity constraints.
Warnings from Energy Experts
Despite South Africa enduring less load shedding than expected in recent weeks, energy experts caution that the grid is still under immense strain.
Professor Mark Swilling forecasted a likely return to stage four and stage six load shedding in the near future and before the end of winter, attributing this to changing weather conditions. He pointed out that the country’s brief relief from higher stages of load shedding resulted from unique circumstances such as reduced demand from large industries due to higher tariffs, fewer unexpected breakdowns, reduced planned maintenance, and higher output from wind generation than anticipated.
This warning was reiterated by other sectors, including the Reserve Bank (SARB), which in a recent report highlighted that energy generation is unlikely to meet demand sustainably until at least mid-2024.
Adding to Swilling’s points, he mentioned that aside from ramping up generation from existing plants, new energy generation – at least 10GW according to his estimation – will take a while to be operational.