According to energy expert Anton Eberhard, South Africa has shattered the record of last year’s power outages in its first four months of 2023. The situation is expected to worsen this winter, with bleak forecasts suggesting higher stages of load-shedding required. The state-owned electricity supplier, Eskom, is already suffering from an energy availability factor (EAF) that is not as fine as previous winters – and first-ever winter will be one without the Koeberg nuclear power station. Both generators have gone offline simultaneously for maintenance.
Higher stages of load-shedding are imminent and those responsible for the South African grid are planning for them. This article will discuss the details that lead us to believe load-shedding will reach Stage 9, affecting homes and normal businesses being without power for more than half the day.
Why is Load-shedding Happening?
Load-shedding is happening due to the over-investment and lack of maintenance, resulting in the country shedding almost 8.4 GWh of electricity between January and April 2023. This year has exceeded last year’s power outages, which in turn, was 4.5x bigger than 2021. Additionally, the higher the stage of load-shedding, the more difficult it becomes to switch electricity on or off. This practice leads to lesser levels of electricity consumption for industries unable to switch power on or off.
Updates on New Codes
Existing load-shedding schedules currently only go up to stage 8, and the load-shedding code of practice is currently being updated with directives beyond stage 8. As additional stages are anticipated, it is crucial to have the most accurate and updated information on the status of Eskom’s load-shedding plan and the stability of the South African grid.
The co-director of the Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Sustainability Transitions, Professor Mark Swilling, and Energy expert Clyde Mallinson anticipate Eskom shorthanding 11,000MW of electricity this winter. The challenge is expected to be exacerbated by Eskom’s performance, resulting in higher stages during winter as demands increase.