Load-shedding can end in two years – professor

There is a very good chance that load-shedding will end in two years as 25,000MW of renewable capacity from the private sector and the government comes online. 

Professor Mark Swilling told eNCA that pessimism about South Africa’s load-shedding outlook for the next five years is unwarranted as the evidence does not suggest things will worsen. 

Swilling was referring to comments from former Eskom manager Matthew Cruise, who warned that load-shedding would escalate and continue for ten years.

Cruise, who now serves as head of business intelligence and public relations at Hohm Energy, said load-shedding intensity could double over the next five years.

He pointed to a study from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) about constraints on the transmission grid.

These constraints prevent many renewable energy projects from feeding into the grid because of capacity constraints in the northern part of the country.

Swilling dismissed Cruise’s concerns about the lack of grid capacity, as there is low-hanging fruit that could unlock enough capacity to end load-shedding in two years. 

Grid constraints in many areas are due to a lack of capacity at Eskom’s substations and are not due to a lack of transmission lines. 

Increasing the capacity of local substations could unlock an estimated 17,000MW of capacity in the short term. 

Longer-term expansions of transmission lines will take five to seven years, said Swilling. 

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said the government is working on about 25 projects in existing substations that could potentially unlock about 13,000MW of energy.

“In the next 10 years, we think that it’s possible for us to be able to have an additional 24 gigawatts,” he said.

Professor Mark Swilling. Source: World Economic Forum/Walter Duerst

Swilling said this would create ample grid capacity for at least half of the 25,000MW to come online soon. 

To end load-shedding, South Africa needs 10,000MW of renewable energy capacity to come online. “There is a very good chance that this is going to happen in the next two years. All evidence suggests that.”

“It is looking healthy. By the end of 2024, as the renewables come online, we will see a significant reduction in load-shedding,” Swilling claimed.

The addition of this capacity, mainly from the private sector, will be complemented by government-procured renewable energy from Bid Windows 7 and 8. 

These Bid Windows will procure 5,000MW of generation capacity each. 

An estimated 9,000MW of energy generation capacity is in the pipeline from households and private companies. 

The return of Koeberg and three units at Kusile to service will add further capacity to the grid and ensure Eskom’s fleet comes close to a 60% Energy Availability Factor. 

Swilling added that investments will have to be made into battery and gas storage in the future as South Africa’s energy mix changes to predominantly renewable sources. 


Top JSE indices