Eskom hits stage 8 load-shedding

Eskom load-shedding hit 7,072MW on Thursday, 13 April 2023, which, according to the power utility’s definition, equates to stage 8.

Eskom’s evening peak data revealed that it had 23,771MW of generation capacity available while total demand was 30,747MW.

Eskom used ten open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) – power stations that use diesel as their primary resource – to increase generation capacity.

It also added 1,741MW of renewable energy to the grid, which included 1,340MW of wind power, 68MW of solar power, and 333MW of concentrated solar power (CSP).

Eskom avoided saying it implemented stage 8 load-shedding, explaining that the 7,072MW load-shedding included “stage 6 and load curtailment stage 4”.

However, this is merely another way of saying it implemented 7,072MW of load-shedding, which is, by its own definition, stage 8.

The table below shows the load-shedding over the last two weeks based on Eskom’s information.

DateLoad-shedding (MW)Announced StageActual Stage
13 April 2023707268
12 April 2023589366
11 April 2023496455
10 April 2023273533
09 April 2023167922
08 April 2023162422
07 April 2023152522
06 April 2023378544
05 April 2023502446
04 April 2023402145

Many experts said that the reality of what South Africans can expect this winter regarding load-shedding is starting to show.

Energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard said the honeymoon is over for South Africa’s electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.

“Andre de Ruyter is gone, and you can no longer blame him. Now the hard work begins,” Eberhard said.

Energy analyst Clyde Mallison warned South Africa could hit stage 9 load shedding in June if the country is hit with cold snaps.

The energy expert said Eskom’s demand forecasts are “generally pretty accurate”. However, “they predict for a full year, and so can get tripped up, especially by cold snaps in winter,” he said.

“If we have a cold snap in June, that corresponds with the average coal fleet performance assumption, and we use our diesel budget at this time, we could see up to stage 9 load-shedding,” he said.

Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa’s warning

Kgosientsho Ramokgopa
Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has previously warned that Eskom faces a shortfall of 8,000MW to 10,000MW in winter, which equates to stage 10 load-shedding.

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 and peaks at 37,000MW.

With a guaranteed supply of 27,000MW, South Africa faces 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.

Preparing for higher stages of load-shedding

Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association
Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association

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.


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