South Africa won’t see stage 12 – but load-shedding will be back

Energy analyst Professor Hartmut Winkler said South Africa will still have load-shedding but is in a far better position than last year.

Winkler’s comments come after South Africa has seen over 25 days of no load-shedding.

“We are still going to have some load-shedding, I’m pretty sure of that, although I have to admit that the situation is better than I would have predicted,” Winkler said.

“I expected that we would at some point go to stage 6 just like we did last year, but maybe we’re going to avoid that.” 

However, Winkler told eNCA that this reprieve from load-shedding likely will not last long.

This is because the lack of load-shedding was not due to Eskom’s improved performance but rather lower demand.

He explained that Eskom is supplying exactly as much now as it was during the same time last year, but the public is using less electricity.

Winkler said electricity demand has decreased by 6% to 7% compared to 2023. This is, in part, due to the increasing number of households and businesses installing rooftop solar and large-scale renewable energy products that have come online.

While this has eased demand for now, Eskom must still address its supply problems, as the utility’s ageing power plants remain unreliable and unable to consistently meet demand.

However, Winkler said South Africa is unlikely to see stage 12 load-shedding as some have feared unless something completely unexpected happens at Eskom.

Energy expert Professor Mark Swilling also recently said that, despite a recent reprieve from load-shedding, South Africa is not out of the woods yet, as the country still faces an electricity crisis.

“No expert is going to tell you that now that we’ve had quite a long period of no load-shedding, we’re out of the woods,” he said. 

“No Eskom official can put their hand on their heart and say tomorrow morning we will continue to have no load-shedding because there’s a lot of instability – anything can happen tomorrow.”

Swilling explained that the uncertainty and instability in South Africa’s electricity system is due to Eskom’s ageing coal fleet.

Some of the older power stations were going to be closed or refurbished, but this plan was changed in the government’s latest Integrated Resource Plan.

Swilling said this means it will become increasingly difficult to keep these stations working reliably.

“All that we can be certain about is that there are high levels of uncertainty in the system,” he said.


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