Eskom load-shedding concerns – with stage 8 possible

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is accused of misleading South Africans about load-shedding with higher stages on the cards.

On Wednesday, Eskom announced the return of stage 6 load-shedding due to the loss of generating units overnight. It was also unable to replenish its emergency reserves.

Eskom said it has been using its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) extensively and could not replenish pumped storage dam levels.

This announcement comes shortly after Eskom said that, given its generation fleet’s current performance, stage 8 load-shedding is still possible this winter.

“During the warmer period, Stage 3 to 4 load-shedding is to be expected, while colder periods may increase this,” Eskom said.

“Should a cold spell coincide with multiple generator breakdowns, high stages of load-shedding may be necessary for a short duration.”

Last week, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said South Africa’s electricity generation capacity continues to show signs of improvement and stabilisation.

Ramokgopa said Eskom could maintain a much lower stage of load-shedding due to the improvement of the energy availability factor (EAF).

He added that Eskom is much closer to achieving its target of 70% EAF and that it has been consistent on an average of 60% for the past 14 days.

“We have been able to maintain the trend line. We are approximating that 60% energy availability factor,” he said.

“Load-shedding is bad in all its elements, but you can see that we’re able to maintain that permutation of load-shedding stages 0 to 3 or 1 to 3.”

Many energy experts criticized Ramokgopa’s claims, saying the increased EAF is by design and not improved performance.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said Eskom’s EAF is still on a downward trend when considering the year-on-year change.

He added Eskom’s year-to-date EAF is 53.77%, down significantly from 59.35% for the same period in 2022.

“The government’s messaging that the energy availability factor is heading upwards and is close to 70% is just not true,” he said.

Professor Anton Eberhard echoed Yelland’s view, saying as South Africa is again facing stage 6 load-shedding, it’s instructive to be reminded of the long-term trend in performance.

He said there are no short-term miracles with Eskom’s ageing power station fleet, which are more prone to breakdowns and require increased maintenance.

Eberhard shared a chart of Eskom’s EAF from 2000 to 2023, which shows the rapid decline over the last four years.

Electricity Minister misleading South Africans – DA

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa
Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

DA MP Samantha Graham-Maré accused Ramokgopa of misleading the public by claiming that the recovery in generation capacity was sustainable.

“Ramokgopa provided misleading information to guide public opinion on load-shedding for political purposes,” she said.

She said since his appointment, Ramokgopa has done nothing of consequence except pursue a misleading public relations campaign.

Graham-Maré added that the government has failed to address load-shedding despite its claims that it was under control.

She highlighted that ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula claimed that “load-shedding would soon be a thing of the past” as “South Africa’s energy supply was stabilising”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also said, “Measures taken so far to stabilise electricity generation had brought relief from the current load-shedding.”

With the country’s having to deal with stage 6 load-shedding again, the government is accused of intentionally misleading South Africans on the true extent of the electricity crisis.

Graham-Maré added that Eskom is using 22 OCGTs to try to limit load-shedding, costing the country R3 billion per month in diesel.

“This is not sustainable, as Open Cycle Gas Turbines are supposed to be operating at around 10% of their capacity. We are sitting at 60% at this stage,” she said.

“The government only has short-term solutions. They have no long-term plan, and the country is in trouble.”


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