Persistent Load Shedding Despite Warmer Weather
South Africa has seen a slow, but steady, rise in temperatures following the fierce cold front that plunged the nation into a deep freeze earlier this week. However, despite the reprieve in weather, Eskom remains steadfast in its enforcement of Stage 6 load shedding, matching the severest curtailments the utility has ever enforced.
“Stage-6 load shedding will continue to be implemented over the weekend to replenish emergency reserves and set a possible path for the reduction in stages of load shedding in the coming week,” said Eskom in a statement late on Thursday.
The utility pointed out that the surge in electricity demand triggered by the cold snap, particularly on Monday and Tuesday, was expected, but this demand surge overshot forecasts.
Emergency Reserves Running on Empty
Emergency reserves, primarily relying on diesel-fueled open-cycle gas turbines and pumped-water generation schemes, were heavily tapped on Monday and Tuesday to cushion the impacts of the icy weather. Unfortunately, with the failure of additional generation units since Sunday, these reserves have run dry.
“Unfortunately, due to the failure of additional generation units since Sunday, the reserves have been depleted and can no longer buffer the lingering effects of the cold weather and make up for the lost generation capacity,” the utility noted.
The Struggle with Power Generation
Eskom is currently grappling with breakdowns amounting to 17.7GW of generating capacity, while another 3.1GW capacity is out of service for planned maintenance. Despite these setbacks, Eskom’s teams are tirelessly striving to bring generating units back online.
“It is anticipated that eight generating units will be returned to service in the next few days,” the utility added, providing a glimmer of hope amidst the power crisis.