South Africa has been struggling with power outages for several years now, with Eskom, the state-owned power utility, struggling to meet the country’s electricity demand. Recently, Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association of South Africa has warned that the country could experience even higher levels of load-shedding than the current Stage 8 if necessary steps are not taken to fix the issues at Eskom.
The NRS Association is responsible for developing electricity supply and load-shedding specifications in South Africa. Padayachee’s warning follows Eskom’s acting head of generation, Thomas Conradie, stating that they are revising the code of practice to potentially extend the load-shedding schedule to Stage 16.
Although Conradie did not confirm that Eskom is preparing for Stage 16 load-shedding, he did state that they are working on developing schedules for higher stages than the current peak of Stage 8. The new rotational power cut document is being created to cater to higher load-shedding stages, which will enable Eskom to have a more systematic approach if necessary. This would prevent Eskom from having to jump around to reduce the load on the grid beyond Stage 8.
According to Padayachee, Eskom is reviewing the load-shedding framework to prepare for the possibility of higher stages in the future. He stressed that the grid is at a critical stage, and it is impossible for anyone to guarantee that South Africa will not experience load-shedding beyond Stage 8.
“The reality is that we could go beyond stage 8 load-shedding if we do not take serious steps to rectify the issues [at Eskom],” Padayachee said.
He added that Eskom is putting remedial actions in place to prevent South Africa from experiencing a total grid collapse and blackout. Load-shedding is an excellent management tool to prevent South Africa from going into a blackout situation, but the added measures they are developing would further protect the country from experiencing a blackout.
Padayachee’s warning is consistent with other warnings from former Eskom executives. Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has warned South Africans that 2023 is going to be a tough year for load-shedding. He expects South Africans to experience at least Stage 6 power cuts, possibly worse, during winter.
Eskom’s former general manager of system operations, Robbie van Heerden, also expressed concern, stating that South Africa is in a very bad situation. According to him, load-shedding will not go away and is likely to reach Stage 8 during winter. Eskom’s power stations are in very bad condition because maintenance is not done properly. Some maintenance agreements have not been honored for two years, which is concerning.
In conclusion, load-shedding continues to be a significant issue in South Africa, and it appears that the situation may worsen in the coming years. It is essential for Eskom and the government to take proactive measures to rectify the issues at Eskom to prevent a total grid collapse and blackout.