Eskom misleading South Africa

Eskom is misleading the public with its load-shedding outlook for summer by focusing on the best-case scenario and not considering past trends in creating its estimates for load-shedding. 

This is feedback from energy expert Hilton Trollip, who told Newzroom Afrika that Eskom’s claimed reduction in unplanned outages is “simply not true according to Eskom’s own data”.

Eskom presented its Summer Outlook to the media last week, where the utility said it expects South Africa to experience 116 days of load-shedding in summer with a maximum of stage 4. 

Eskom’s acting CEO, Calib Cassim, said South Africa got through the winter months better than expected, with lower-than-planned demand and improved generating capacity. 

Eskom hopes to improve on this in the summer months, with a goal of limiting load-shedding to below stage 4 and unplanned outages to below 14,500 MW.

A key measure that will help Eskom achieve this goal is the return of nearly 3,000 MW of generating capacity at the Kusile Power Station in the coming months. 

However, this is the best-case scenario, which assumes that Eskom can keep its unplanned losses at 14,500 MW. 

If this increases to 16,000 MW, just below what it was for most of the winter, South Africa will experience 187 days of load-shedding with a maximum of stage 6. 

In the worst-case scenario, South Africa will only have two days without load-shedding in summer with a maximum of stage 7. 

Trollip said Eskom could not focus on the worst-case scenario even if it is more likely to occur as “they have to make their bosses happy”.

“For me, it is untenable that the CEO and senior executives of a company can make these statements. If this came out of a large, listed company, their share would hit the floor,” Trollip said. 

Load-shedding has proven to be highly variable, fluctuating between no power cuts and stage 6 due to Eskom’s performance being unpredictable. 

There is no indication that this will change, said Trollip, considering Eskom’s history of poor maintenance and management of large infrastructure projects such as Kusile and Medupi. 

One also has to consider that the units Eskom plans to return at Kusile and Medupi have had historical problems, and it is unlikely that they will return to service smoothly. 

“You do not, as Eskom, put up a best-case scenario and expect credibility,” Trollip said. “They are not doing themselves, the country, or Eskom any favours by making these statements.”

Energy expert Hilton Trollip

Eskom’s history of load-shedding predictions 

Trollip’s warning is substantiated by historical data from Eskom’s previous State of the System briefings.

Eskom has provided load-shedding predictions since 2021, giving its best-, mid- and worst-case scenarios.

Measuring the predictions against what really happened shows that Eskom consistently delivered its worst-case scenario.

An analysis by Daily Investor of these predictions showed that South Africa, on average,  experienced 9% more days of load-shedding than Eskom’s worst-case scenario predicted.

The highest load-shedding stage was also higher than what Eskom predicted in its worst-case scenario.

The tables below, using Eskom’s State of the System outlooks and real-world data courtesy of The Outlier, show the predictions versus what really happened.

Days of load-sheddingBest CaseMid CaseWorst CaseActualScenario Realised
Sep 2021 to Aug 202214094121>worst case
Sep 2022 to Aug 20239200319356>worst case
Apr 2022 to Mar 202316169295280worst case
Apr 2023 to Aug 2023122152153153worst case
Load-shedding stageBest CaseMid CaseWorst CaseActualScenario Realised
Sep 2021 to Aug 2022Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 6>worst case
Sep 2022 to Aug 2023Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 6>worst case
Apr 2022 to Mar 2023Stage 1Stage 3Stage 4Stage 6>worst case
Apr 2023 to Aug 2023Stage 5Stage 6Stage 8Stage 6mid-case


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