Eskom’s Load Shedding Escalates Amid Generation Unit Shutdowns

Johannesburg – South African power utility Eskom has announced an uptick in load shedding measures beginning Tuesday, 21 November, attributing the surge to the shutdown of two key generating units.

Elevated Load Shedding Stages:

  • Transition to Stage 2 load shedding from 09:00 to 16:00, a notch above the previously expected Stage 1.
  • Stage 3 load shedding will take effect from 16:00 continuing into the early hours of Wednesday.

Continuing Disruptions: Eskom plans to maintain this alternating schedule of Stage 2 and 3 load shedding indefinitely, indicating a strained power system.

Tuesday’s Timetable:

  • Early morning load shedding at Stage 3 until 05:00.
  • A brief dip to Stage 1 from 05:00, rising to Stage 2 at 09:00.
  • Load shedding intensifies to Stage 3 from 16:00 to midnight.

Wednesday’s Forecast:

  • Persistence of Stage 3 load shedding until dawn.
  • A daytime reduction to Stage 2 followed by an evening return to Stage 3.

Thursday’s Outlook:

  • Repetition of Wednesday’s pattern, with Stage 3 load shedding anticipated to resume during the evening peak.

A Fragile Grid: With the grid’s stability in question, Eskom’s measures reflect the delicate balance the utility must maintain. Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa pointed to a significant loss of over 2,700 MW from multiple power stations, likening the impact to nearly three stages of load shedding. “The loss of this ‘cluster’ of units has undeniably intensified the load shedding we are now imposing,” he remarked during a recent briefing.

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Analysts’ Concern: Energy experts like Pieter Jordaan have flagged the utility’s unplanned outages, which have consistently exceeded 30% recently. Jordaan cautions that any additional breakdowns or spikes in demand could further exacerbate the frequency and severity of power cuts across the nation.

Eskom’s current predicament underscores the challenges of managing an aging infrastructure and the urgent need for investment in robust and sustainable energy solutions.

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