Electricity Minister warns load-shedding will come back

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa warned that, despite relief from load-shedding in recent weeks, Eskom will likely have more setbacks in the future, and load-shedding is “not behind us”.

This comes after South Africa has experienced over 20 days without load-shedding, the longest streak since 2022.

In his most recent media briefing on the implementation of South Africa’s Energy Action Plan, the minister said it is in the nature of the space Eskom operates in to have setbacks.

“We are still working on the reliability of these machines, and that’s why you can’t speak with great confidence that load-shedding is behind us. That would be a false claim, and it can’t be substantiated.”

This echoes warnings from energy experts who have said that South Africa is not out of the woods yet, and while there are improvements at Eskom, load-shedding will be back.

Energy expert Chris Yelland said South Africans can expect intermittent load-shedding to continue until Eskom’s long-term problems are resolved.

Yelland explained that the reduced load-shedding seen in the past few weeks is not solely due to the improved performance of Eskom’s fleet.

Firstly, Eskom was able to bring extra power online by bypassing pollution controls at Kusile Power Station. 

However, the utility’s extension to bypass these laws will expire, and Eskom will then need to address the problems at this power station by taking some of its units offline for months at a time.

Secondly, there has been lower electricity demand this year. This is likely because more people are using alternative energy sources like solar panels. 

However, there are still many households in South Africa that cannot afford these alternatives and will continue to rely on Eskom for power.

Yelland, therefore, believes that load-shedding will likely continue, but it should be less severe than before. He said Eskom is working on solutions, but it will take time to fix the underlying problems.

Energy expert Professor Mark Swilling also said that South Africa is not out of the woods yet, as the country still faces an electricity crisis.

Swilling told SABC News that South Africa does not have an Eskom crisis but a national electricity system crisis.

He warned that South Africa is not out of the woods yet, and load-shedding will return.

“No expert is going to tell you that now that we’ve had quite a long period of no load-shedding, we’re out of the woods,” he said. 

“No Eskom official can put their hand on their heart and say tomorrow morning we will continue to have no load-shedding because there’s a lot of instability – anything can happen tomorrow.”

Swilling explained that the uncertainty and instability in South Africa’s electricity system is due to Eskom’s ageing coal fleet.

Some of the older power stations were going to be closed or refurbished, but this plan was changed in the government’s latest Integrated Resource Plan.

Swilling said this means it will become increasingly difficult to keep these stations working reliably.

“All that we can be certain about is that there are high levels of uncertainty in the system,” he said.


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