South Africa’s Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, voiced that Eskom, the national power utility, lacks the financial strength to quickly expand the grid as the company is grappling with its balance sheet.
Financial Constraints and Innovation
During his energy action plan briefing at the GCIS offices this past Sunday, Ramokgopa stressed, “The Eskom balance sheet is not in the position to finance the kind of expansion that is required in both the scale and the speed at which we need to respond to the needs. The Eskom balance sheet will not be enough to support that and of course, we need to think creatively around how is it that we will be doing to address that.”
However, the Minister assured the public that the government is dedicated to addressing Eskom’s financial difficulties.
Koeberg Power Station Woes
Concerns have been voiced over the ongoing troubles at the Koeberg power station, where a unit has been offline longer than anticipated. Despite some improvements since May, Ramokgopa acknowledged that energy demand has surged during the cold winter months.
He remarked, “And of course, on the human side, the expectation has always been that when you enter the latter part of June and into July, we’re going to see the demand that is spiking. And of course, that is our own projections, you can see that the demand in July has been greater than any other period during this winter.”
The Gauteng Factor
Gauteng, the province with the highest electricity demand, was discussed as a focal point in the discussion. According to Ramokgopa, weather conditions are also significant factors. The Minister elaborated, “Gauteng accounts on average about 25% of the load. So, the interventions that are made in Gauteng do matter.”
To address this, Eskom is collaborating with the Gauteng provincial government and municipalities to align and implement effective interventions.
Tripping Units: A Recurring Issue
Another critical issue underlined by Ramokgopa is the ongoing problem of tripping units. Teams are reportedly working non-stop to prevent further occurrences. Ramokgopa stressed that each time a unit trips, the country loses critical megawatts, exacerbating load shedding.
Levels of Load Shedding
With load shedding levels remaining higher than desired, Ramokgopa called for collective attention, vowing, “The levels of load shedding are not going down to where we want it to be… I do promise that we’re going to address this with the urgency that the state is required.”
In light of the current situation, Eskom had to implement Stage 4 load shedding from 2pm on Sunday to 5am on Monday. Stage 3 load shedding followed until 4pm on Monday, with Stage 4 load shedding set to resume at 4pm on Monday until 5am on Tuesday. Further plans will see intermittent Stage 2 and 4 load shedding until further notice.