A predictive electricity model developed by energy expert Clyde Mallinson showed that South Africa may experience stage 8 load-shedding unless Eskom’s performance improves.
Eskom has implemented stage 6 load-shedding this week after a delay in returning generating units to service at the Kendal, Matla, and Matimba power stations.
On Wednesday, Eskom appealed to South Africans to reduce their electricity use by switching off non-essential appliances like geysers, swimming pool pumps, and electric heaters.
“The evening peak forecast for today is 29,609MW, and yesterday’s demand at evening peak was 33,423MW, higher than the forecast demand,” it said.
“The reduction will continue to assist in alleviating pressure on the system and avoid higher stages of load-shedding.”
It showed that Eskom was teetering on the brink of implementing stage 7 load-shedding as demand increased.
This aligned with Mallinson’s predictive load-shedding chart, which showed a shortfall of around 8,000MW at current levels.
He said Eskom’s coal fleet is currently flirting with a capacity factor of just over 41%. This translates to a shortfall of 8,000 MW, which is equivalent to stage 8 load-shedding or higher.
The chart below, courtesy of Mallinson, shows predicted levels of maximum shortfall based on coal fleet capacity factors.
Higher stages of load-shedding
Although Eskom has never officially exceeded stage 6 load-shedding, many experts said by its own definitions, it had previously implemented stage 7 and 8 power cuts.
CSIR senior researcher Monique le Roux is one of the experts who previously said Eskom had exceeded stage 6 load-shedding this year despite the power utility vehemently denying it.
In May, Le Roux said that although Eskom does not like it, the country was in stage 7 load-shedding, as up to 7,000MW of electricity is unavailable from the grid.
“Eskom seems to have a drive to avoid, as much as possible, announcing stage 7 load-shedding,” she said.
“Technically, we can say that we have been in stage 7 load-shedding because 7,000MW has been unavailable and unsupplied.”
Many other experts agree with Le Roux, including energy expert Adil Nchabeleng and Pick n Pay CEO Pieter Boone.
Nchabeleng echoed Le Roux’s comments that Eskom has decided not to inform the public when it exceeds stage 6 load-shedding.
He said South Africa is already experiencing much higher load-shedding stages than Eskom is reporting.
“Eskom has decided to cap its announcements at stage 6 load-shedding, avoiding announcing stage 8 or higher load-shedding,” he said.
“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.”
“We are sitting at a minimum of 12 hours of electricity cuts on a given day, and they are blanketing out major areas.”
The Pick n Pay CEO also said parts of the country are already experiencing stage 8 load-shedding, which impacts the food supply and creates water shortages.
“I can assure you that in certain parts of the country, we are already in stage 8 load-shedding,” Boone said.
The same happened this week. On Tuesday, Eskom cut 6,363 MW from the grid, which equates to stage 7 load-shedding.
|Date||Load-shedding||Official stage||Real stage|
|Wed, 6 September||6,369 MW||Stage 6||Stage 7|
|Thu, 7 September||6,369 MW||Stage 6||Stage 7|
|Fri, 8 September||5,050 MW||Stage 5||Stage 6|
|Sat, 9 September||3,463 MW||Stage 4||Stage 4|
|Sun, 10 September||3,510 MW||Stage 4||Stage 4|
|Mon, 11 September||Not reported||Stage 6||Unknown|
|Tue, 12 September||6,362 MW||Stage 6||Stage 7|