Eskom, South Africa’s central power utility, unveiled its projections for load shedding as we transition into summer 2023 and lead into early 2024. Here’s what to anticipate.
A Review of Winter’s Power Grid
In a debrief, Acting Eskom Chief Executive, Calib Cassim, painted a relatively positive picture of the past winter season. The nation, according to him, navigated the colder months with “lower-than-planned demand and improved generating capacity.” However, it wasn’t without its hurdles; he cited, “stage 6 load shedding was still implemented for 39 of the 153 winter days” with daily outages hovering between stages 3 and 4.
Optimism for Summer
The prime aim? To cut down unplanned outages to below 14,500MW and keep load shedding under stage 4. There’s a silver lining in this narrative, as Cassim mentioned the reactivation of nearly 3,000MW at the Kusile Power Station in the foreseeable future. Moreover, Koeberg Unit 1 is set to return, offering an additional 1,000MW, although its sister, Unit 2, will be offline, offsetting the gains.
The first quarter of 2024 promises more reinforcements. Eskom anticipates activating 1,500MW from Tutuka by January, followed by 1,752MW from other sources by March and 720MW from Medupi by mid-2024. However, these plans are not set in stone, with several challenges looming on the horizon.
Summer Scenarios at a Glance
Eskom’s projections rest on three foundational scenarios, sculpted based on the data at hand:
- The Ideal Scenario: If Eskom manages to keep unplanned outages below 14,500MW, load shedding might only reach a maximum of stage 4.
- The Challenging Scenario: A potential rise in breakdowns, spiking to 16,000MW, would mean more frequent load shedding, possibly at higher stages.
- The Extreme Scenario: A stark warning was sounded, suggesting that if unplanned outages surge by an additional 3,000MW, eclipsing 17,500MW, the nation might experience load shedding past stage 6, possibly hitting stage 7.
To give some context, prior to the winter months, South Africans had been cautioned of a possible peak at stage 8, though, fortunately, such a scenario never materialized. It underlines the unpredictability of power situations.
While the future grid scenarios present a mixed bag of potential outcomes, one fact remains evident: load shedding, in some form, will persist for the forthcoming six months. South Africans, thus, must prepare, conserve, and be informed.