As if load shedding in South Africa couldn’t get any worse, Eskom implemented Stage 7 rolling power cuts without announcing it publicly. The power utility shed over 7,000 MW worth of electricity from the grid, despite classifying the load shedding status only as “Stage 6 and load shedding curtailment Stage 4”. Eskom denied this on Friday, stating that it had not implemented Stage 7 load shedding, but curtailed some industrial customers under system emergency conditions. However, according to Eskom’s own definition, losing 7,000 MW equates to Stage 7 load shedding.
The situation with load shedding has become critical in South Africa, with Eskom failing to meet the country’s energy demands due to multiple factors, including breakdowns in the generators, delays in repairing units, continued corruption, lack of investment, among others.
Renewable energy has been mooted as an option to reduce dependence on coal-fired power, but progress has been slow, and the country remains reliant on coal. As at Thursday evening, Eskom’s renewable energy capacity was 1,741 MW, with IPP availability totalling 1,014 MW. Total renewable energy was made up of 1,340 MW of wind power, 333 MW of concentrated solar power, and 68 MW of photovoltaic power. The power utility also had to rely on 10 open-cycle gas turbines.
While Eskom has not announced a way out of the energy crisis, many South Africans are growing impatient with the power utility and demanding accountability from its management. The ongoing load shedding is causing significant damage to the country’s economy, hindering the growth of businesses, and disrupting the lives of millions of citizens.