Eskom has hit stage 7 load-shedding for the first time this winter despite using 15 open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to limit power cuts.
On Wednesday night, Eskom revealed that it implemented load-shedding of 6,432 megawatts (MW), which equates to stage 7.
Demand hit 34,057MW during the evening peak on Wednesday as a result of cold weather across South Africa.
However, Eskom only had 26,699MW of available generation capacity, forcing it to implement 6,432MW of load-shedding to avoid a blackout.
Eskom explained that the increased load-shedding was needed to the loss of generating units overnight. It has also not been able to replenish its emergency reserves.
Eskom clearly defines what each load-shedding stage means based on the number of megawatts it cuts.
- Stage 1 – Up to 1,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 2 – 1,001 to 2,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 3 – 2,001 to 3,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 4 – 3,001 to 4,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 5 – 4,001 to 5,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 6 – 5,001 to 6,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 7 – 6,001 to 7,000MW cut from the national grid.
- Stage 8 – 7,001 to 8,000MW cut from the national grid.
This is straightforward and gives everyone a good idea of the impact of load-shedding and the power cuts the country experiences.
The 6,432MW cut from the national grid on Wednesday evening, therefore, equates to stage 7 load-shedding.
Initially, Eskom’s reported load-shedding stages aligned with the definitions based on megawatts cut from the grid.
However, in recent months, the power utility started to deviate significantly from its definitions when reporting load-shedding stages.
For example, on numerous days when it cut well over 7,000MW, it reported stage 6 load-shedding. It is stage 8 load-shedding, by definition.
Energy expert Adil Nchabeleng previously said Eskom has decided not to inform the public when it exceeds stage 6 load-shedding.
“They are giving us the impression that everything is oscillating around stage 6, which is a lie. It is beyond stage 6 when considering the frequency of power cuts,” he said.
Energy analyst Chris Yelland said Eskom’s systems operator receives many complaints from people about load-shedding hours longer than what is specified for stage 6.
“I know for a fact there are certain municipalities are load-shedding certain areas differently to others – you may say in a discriminatory fashion,” Yelland said.
“So, it is happening where some areas experience higher load shedding stages than what is public knowledge,” he said.
Eskom load-shedding reports
The table below shows Eskom’s load-shedding reports in July and the difference between the reported and actual stage based on its definitions.
|Date||Reported Stage||Load-shedding||True Stage|