Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, has signalled a need to escalate load shedding on Wednesday (19 July), following the failure of eight of its units.
The Immediate Plan
Eskom is forced to ramp up load shedding to stage 4 on Wednesday evening from 16:00 until 05:00 on Thursday, subsequently reverting to stage 3 load shedding, which will continue until 16:00.
Eskom will provide a comprehensive update later, and the below load shedding schedule will reflect these changes.
Here’s what you can expect:
Wednesday, 19 July:
- Stage 1: until 16:00
- Stage 4: 16:00 to 00:00
Thursday, 20 July:
- Stage 4: 00:00 to 05:00
- Stage 3: 05:00 to 16:00
Rising Demand and Depleting Reserves
The power utility had cautioned earlier this week that an upward trend in demand coupled with diminishing reserves could push load shedding into higher stages as we approach the weekend.
According to independent energy analyst Pieter Jordaan, Eskom continues to rely on a ‘razor thin’ reserve, and any malfunction or surge in operations could exacerbate power outages.
Generation Capacity and User Demand: A Balancing Act
Despite some improvement in generating capacity over the past few weeks, the primary contributor to South Africa’s load shedding alleviation has been a decrease in consumer demand.
This scenario underwent a drastic shift last week, when a severe cold snap drove energy demand up to levels that Eskom had predicted at the onset of winter, warning that high stages of load shedding were increasingly probable.
The culmination of these conditions led to an extended period of stage 6 load shedding.