Eskom has forecasted a stage 5 minimum load shedding for most of the winter season and warns of a high possibility of stage 8 load shedding over July and August. Eskom’s chairman Mpho Makwana announced that their power system would be even more constrained this season due to cold weather and patterns of weather change in the country that would lead to high electricity demand. Eskom presented its winter plan forecasting the load shedding outlook based on seasonal patterns and the likely performance of the plant and the extent of the plant breakdowns. Three scenarios were modeled with 15,000MW, 16,500MW, and 18,000MW unplanned outages or breakdowns. These scenarios would result in Stage 5, Stage 6, Stage 7, and Stage 8 load shedding.
Eskom’s Breakdown Capacity
Despite Eskom’s intervention to reduce breakdowns, the energy availability factor (EAF) continued to decline to 53%. Since 1 April, unplanned breakdowns have averaged between 16,000MW to 17,000MW, and Eskom’s head of generation, Bheki Nxumalo, believes that this makes a Stage 7 and Stage 8 more likely than ever before this winter. SA entered an extremely difficult period, according to Nxumalo.
Eskom’s Interventions for Load Shedding
Eskom has put several interventions in place to reduce breakdowns, including the deployment of experienced managers to power stations, which is expected to stabilize operations in May. Acting CEO Calib Cassim said that Eskom’s focus should be on the performance of the fleet, and they are confident it will not occur, but if unplanned outages reach 18,000MW, the likelihood of Stage 8 is high. The Eskom board remains committed to meet their targets of achieving a higher EAF. They have set a target of 65% EAF by March 2024 and 70% by March 2025.
Eskom continues to struggle to keep the unplanned outages below 17,000MW while the energy availability factor continues to decline. Although Eskom has implemented several interventions, these have not been reflected in the numbers. With the approach of winter, it is crucial for people to prepare and stay informed with load shedding schedules. Eskom remains committed to meet their targets to achieve a higher EAF by deploying experienced managers and hopes this will stabilize operations. It will be a difficult winter as Eskom forecasts a minimum of Stage 5 load shedding for most of the winter season, and there is a high possibility of Stage 8 load shedding over July and August.