The National Rationalised Specifications (NRS) Association of South Africa is actively engaged in the development of new load shedding stages in the country. The NRS Association is a collaborative forum of organizations formed to standardize equipment specifications in the South African Electricity Supply Industry. The NRS 048-9 Code of Practice, which governs load shedding, is the primary document driven and executed by the electricity utility sector and derives its authority from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) once approved as part of the Electricity Regulations Act.
The association is currently working with Nersa to approve the third edition of the NRS 048-9 Code of Practice. When the first edition was established in 2010, load shedding stages were limited to Stage 4, which represented 25% of the base load and required utilities to find electricity under emergency conditions. However, with the deterioration of Eskom’s grid and energy availability, it has become necessary to plan further ahead.
The third edition of the NRS 048-9 Code of Practice will provide a methodology for utilities to reduce the entire load base in a structured manner, potentially resulting in 16 stages of load shedding. This development will allow for the removal of contingency plans for unknown scenarios beyond Stage 8. It is important to note that the extension of the load shedding stages does not necessarily indicate that the country will move beyond Stage 8, but rather serves as a proactive measure for the electricity utilities, particularly Eskom, to be prepared in the event of such a scenario.
In addition to adjusting the load shedding stages, the NRS Association is also considering changes to the handling of load shedding, including the blocks of outages. Other changes under consideration include the removal of non-16 block or non-2-hour options, the removal of contingency sections, explicit instructions for utilities to maintain lists of their exempted loads, allowing municipalities to use the gap between 5% and 6.25% for critical electricity loads, and providing more specific instructions for load shedding to protect the system and frequency. The System Operator may also be allowed to dictate changes to odd or even hour shedding to balance the load, and the National Control Centre may intervene in real-time shedding to improve frequency control.
The processes to change the load shedding stages and schedules are ongoing, and the Code of Practice document will be forwarded to Nersa for approval after approval by the NRS Association’s management committee and satisfaction of Nersa’s internal processes and public consultation.