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Eskom Forecasts Prolonged Heavy Load Shedding, Plunging South Africa into Dark Days

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

South African households and businesses are poised to face further dark days as power utility Eskom forecasts 52 weeks of intense load shedding. In an increasingly precarious electricity supply scenario, South Africans might be pushed towards Stage 7 load shedding as per Eskom's latest reports that have hit a second significant crisis this week.

Eskom's newest system status report, uploaded to its website, showcases the alarming rise in unplanned outages week-by-week. The report reflects the possibility of a shortfall in 2,000MW capacity for the next year, contradicting Cabinet's previous statements indicating that heightened load shedding would be temporary.

The discrepancy in the week 35 and 36 system status reports from Eskom underpins the gravity of the situation. On one hand, breakdowns ranging from 13,000MW to 15,000MW were anticipated for the coming year in the week 35 reports. However, the week 36 report predicts likely average unplanned outages at 16,000MW over the next 52 weeks. These are clear indicators of a significant escalation in Eskom's unpredicted outage assumption within a week, effectively adding three more stages of load shedding.

Inclement weather conditions coupled with mounting generator breakdowns and elevated planned maintenance activities have constituted yet another immense crisis for Eskom this week, edging South Africa closer to Stage 7 power cuts. Resets to service units coupled with the current cold front, leading to an unprecedented surge in electricity demand, have made the national grid even more precarious, despite Eskom's and Minister Ramokgopa's earlier assurances to the contrary.

Stage 6 of load shedding saw up to 6,000MW shed from the national load, further accentuating the instability in South Africa's power scenario. Eskom has hence pleaded with South Africans to curtail their electricity consumption during peak hours to mitigate escalating load shedding stages.

Stage 7 load shedding could necessitate up to 7,000MW to be shed from the national grid, implying power cuts up to 12 times over a four-day period, as stated by Eskom. The utility's response to the 52-week forecast remains awaited, underscoring the magnitude of Eskom's deteriorating capability of providing power to South African households and businesses.

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