Eskom’s Power Reprieve: A Glimpse of Light Amid Rotational Blackouts

In an unexpected turn, Eskom has thrown South Africans a curveball with a promising update on the load-shedding front.

Breaking the Cycle

Monday, 2 October 2023, will mark a notable moment for Eskom. They’ve extended their load-shedding suspension until the evening peak demand time. Originally, the plan was to dive back into stage 2 load-shedding at 16:00 on Sunday, 1 October. But thanks to some optimistic changes in Eskom’s operations, that won’t be the case.

The utility giant credited a trifecta for this extension: the much-anticipated comeback of Kusile Unit 3, continued solid generation performance, and an electricity demand that wasn’t as intense as projected. They’ll, however, pivot back to their stage 2 load-shedding mode at 16:00 on Monday. Eskom reassures, “Eskom will communicate should any significant changes occur.”

Setting a New Benchmark

This isn’t just a minor break in load-shedding. If everything goes according to Eskom’s plan, South Africans will experience a whopping 59-hour load-shedding reprieve, a feat not seen since early September 2022. To put this into perspective, app EskomSePush highlighted that the previous most extended load-shedding breather this year spanned 42 hours.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Let’s rewind to 2022. The last uninterrupted power days were the 29th and 30th of October, extending an additional 5 hours on 31 October. That break stretched to 53 hours in total.

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Kusile’s Comeback

Saturday witnessed the resurrection of the 800MW Kusile Unit 3, which had been offline for nearly a year. This unit, along with Unit 1 and Unit 2, had been on a hiatus due to a structural issue in October 2022. However, with Eskom’s swift action plan, Unit 1 and Unit 2 are slated to be operational by the close of October and November 2023, respectively.

Interestingly, Eskom is leveraging temporary stacks for these units until March 2025, facilitating necessary repairs. Though this might exceed legal emission boundaries, Eskom has secured a nod from the National Air Quality Officer.

And there’s more in Eskom’s kitty. The utility is gearing up to bring Kusile Unit 5 onto the grid for the first time. Collectively, these enhancements promise to inject a potential 2,880MW back into the grid. To the average Joe, that’s akin to waving goodbye to three stages of load-shedding. Quite the silver lining, isn’t it?