Eskom Achieves Milestone: 40 Days Without Load Shedding

JOHANNESBURG, May 2, 2024 — Eskom, South Africa’s main electricity provider, has reported a significant improvement in its operational performance, marking 40 consecutive days without load shedding. This progress comes after the utility ramped up its Generation Operational Recovery Plan, which was initiated in March 2023 amid escalating crisis levels.

Key Developments in Eskom’s Recovery

  • Reduction in Unplanned Outages: Eskom has significantly decreased plant breakdowns, with unplanned outages dropping by approximately 4,400MW, from 15,523MW to 11,036MW since April 26, 2024.
  • Historical Comparison: Compared to the same period last year, when breakdowns rose from 16,882MW to 18,198MW, this year’s figures represent a substantial improvement.
  • Winter Outlook: Originally, Eskom anticipated breakdown scenarios between 14,000MW and 17,000MW. The current reduction to 11,000MW far surpasses these expectations.

Opposition Skepticism and Eskom’s Rebuttal

Opposition parties and some analysts have suggested that Eskom’s improved performance might be an election strategy, possibly involving increased diesel usage in Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs). Eskom, however, has refuted these claims, confirming that there has been no surge in diesel use for power generation compared to the last system update.

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Energy Availability Factor (EAF) and Maintenance Strategy

  • EAF Improvements: The Energy Availability Factor has consistently stayed above 60% since April 29, 2024, reaching 65% on May 1. The year-to-date performance is now at 58.99%, significantly up from last year’s 53%.
  • Maintenance Strategy: With the onset of winter, Eskom has strategically reduced maintenance activities to prepare for increased demand, planning only short-term, opportunistic maintenance when excess supply allows.
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Factors Influencing Eskom’s Supply Levels

  • Reduced Demand: A notable factor in the current surplus of energy supply is the reduced demand, primarily driven by consumers moving away from Eskom towards private generation sources, including solar. This transition has removed about 1,500MW of demand from Eskom’s system.
  • Private Generation Impact: There is currently around 5,500MW of solar and private generation not accounted for on Eskom’s grid, which has contributed to evening energy demands being approximately 2,000MW lower than typical levels.

Upcoming Capacity and Load Shedding Risks

  • Future Capacity: Eskom expects the return of significant capacity with the reintegration of Medupi Unit 4 (800MW), Koeberg Unit 2 (980MW), and Kusile Unit 6 (800MW) into the grid over the coming months.
  • Risk of Load Shedding: Despite current successes, the risk of load shedding persists, especially with winter demand expected to exceed summer levels by about 6,000 MW. Intermittent load shedding remains a possibility until sufficient new capacity is integrated to handle unexpected setbacks.

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