South Africans face a challenging week as Eskom, the national power utility, enforces Stage 3 load shedding until early Monday morning. This decision springs from a dire need to preserve emergency reserves amidst a pronounced shortage in generation capacity.
Staggered Load Shedding Schedule:
- Continuation of Stage 3 until 05:00 AM, Monday
- Transition to Stage 2 until 16:00 PM, followed by a revert to Stage 3 through to 05:00 AM, Tuesday
- A mix of Stages 1 and 3 to alternate from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon
- Unplanned outages stand at a staggering 16,264MW, including notable delays at the Lethabo power station.
- Planned maintenance outages account for 6,606MW of capacity.
A Grid in Crisis: Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, Minister in charge of Electricity, expressed concern over the grid’s performance in recent weeks, marking a significant decline from prior stability. “The unexpected failure of several units has significantly impacted our capacity,” said Ramokgopa, referring to a cluster of units’ failure that has led to the current predicament.
Diesel Dependency and Capacity Woes: The fallout from unit failures has necessitated an increased reliance on diesel-operated Open Cycle Gas Turbines—a practice Eskom had strategically avoided in the past five weeks. “Our emergency reserves are now depleted, necessitating a rebuild,” Ramokgopa emphasized, signaling an urgent need to stabilize the system.
Recovery Efforts: The minister remains optimistic as he anticipates the restoration of five units by Sunday night, with two additional units expected back in operation by Monday.
A Silver Lining at Koeberg: Amidst the strain, Eskom celebrates a significant milestone with the reconnection of Unit 1 at Koeberg Power Station to the grid following a successful steam generator replacement. “This is pivotal for Koeberg’s life extension beyond its original 40-year tenure,” the utility expressed, hopeful for a positive assessment from the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) for an additional 20-year operation.
Eskom, while facing turbulent times, is steadfast in its commitment to restoring stability to South Africa’s power supply, striving to overcome the current challenges with strategic management and infrastructural fortitude.