Electricity minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa has warned that Eskom faces a shortfall of 8,000MW to 10,000MW in winter, which equates to stage 10 load-shedding.
Ramokgopa was speaking during a media briefing where he provided an update on his power station tour between 20 and 31 March.
The minister explained that Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) averages 53%, resulting in a significant gap between generation capacity and electricity demand.
He explained that they needed around 6,000MW to close the gap between supply and demand during summer.
“On average, Eskom can guarantee us about 27,000MW, and we know that peak demand in summer is about 32,000MW,” Ramokgopa said.
The situation changes significantly during winter, when the average demand is around 35,000MW, peaking at 37,000MW.
With a guaranteed supply of 27,000MW, South Africa is facing a shortfall of between 8,000MW and 10,000MW during winter. It translates into stage 8 to 10 load-shedding.
If this scenario is to be avoided, the supply of electricity must be increased, electricity demand must be decreased, or both.
The electricity minister’s estimates align with other experts who predicted the worst load-shedding South Africa has ever experienced this winter.
Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex, said South Africans should brace themselves for consistent stage 7 load-shedding from July.
Attard Montalto said their forecasts show that South Africa will, on average, experience stage 6 load-shedding from February and stage 7 from July.
He warned that the peak might be higher, suggesting South Africans will face stage 8 or higher load-shedding this year.
Robbie van Heerden, Eskom’s former general manager of system operations who used to run South Africa’s power system, also warned that South Africans should brace for stage 8 power cuts.
He told attendees at an alternative energy solutions meeting in Midstream Estate that South Africa would most likely go to stage 8 during winter.
“People must realise that South Africa is in a very bad situation. Load-shedding will not go away. It will not stop at the end of the year, as promised by Ramaphosa,” he said.
Preparing for higher stages of load-shedding
Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association of South Africa said that Eskom is reviewing the load-shedding framework to prepare for load-shedding to exceed stage 8 in the future.
It is a proactive measure for Eskom and municipalities to be ready to respond should it be necessary.
“Eskom’s grid is at a critical stage, and no professional can guarantee that South Africa could not go beyond stage 8 load-shedding,” he said.
Eskom’s acting head of generation, Thomas Conradie, said they are revising the code of practice, which can extend its load-shedding schedule to stage 16.
He said it is responsible for the new rotational power cut document to cater to higher load-shedding stages.
The new document would avoid a situation where Eskom will need to “jump around” to reduce the load on the grid beyond stage 8.