Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said they will significantly reduce load-shedding in the next few months and end it in 2024.
He explained that they had already added one 800 MW unit from the Kusile Power Station to the grid, with two more to follow in the coming months.
“If you look at the generation supply in terms of summer conditions, we should be exceeding the 28,000 MW demand,” he said.
“Your lights should be on for most of the day and 24 hours. The lights should be on,” Ramokgopa said.
He further promised that South Africans will see a significant amount of load-shedding relief in the months ahead.
The Minister also hinted that load-shedding will be a thing of the past within the next year. “A year is too long. If we meet next year, we should be happy,” he said.
Ramokgopa’s latest load-shedding outlook followed promises from President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President Paul Mashatile that load-shedding will end in 2024.
In May, Ramaphosa promised that the end of load-shedding should be in sight soon, with its severity reducing in the short term.
In August, he doubled down on his promise, saying the government is doing great work to fix Eskom and the energy crisis and that load-shedding will end by 2024.
“Energy has been a great drawback to us, but we are working on it, and we are certain that by 2024, the energy crisis will be over,” Ramaphosa said.
Last month, Mashatile said the government wants to “put load-shedding behind us by next year”.
Many energy experts warned that promises of ending load-shedding by next year are misguided and misleading.
Energy expert Hilton Trollip said Eskom’s claimed reduction in unplanned outages is “simply not true according to Eskom’s own data”.
He added that load-shedding has proven to be highly variable, fluctuating between no power cuts and stage 6 due to Eskom’s unpredictable performance.
There is no indication that this will change, 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,” he said.
“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 analyst Chris Yelland also cautioned against being over-optimistic and listening to politicians’ promises during an election cycle.
He highlighted that the minister said the grid is currently around 3,000 MW short, causing higher load-shedding stages.
With Kusile’s units expected to come online within the next few months, it may look like this shortfall will be covered.
However, Yelland highlighted that three of Kusile’s generation units will not run at full capacity because of emission controls and other constraints.
“They will run at a maximum of 550 MW, which is considerably lower than the usual 710 MW,” he said.
Another concern is that they will not continuously run at the planned 710 MW or even 550 MW if their historical performance is anything to go by.
“We may only get a 50% energy availability factor from Kusile, which is about 350 MW per unit. The three units will, therefore, offer around 1,000 MW and reduce one stage of load-shedding.”
With this reality in mind, Yelland cautioned people to be conservative when it comes to pronouncements about load-shedding.
“If people are not conservative, we raise expectations which will not be met, which leads to criticism and a loss of credibility,” he said.