End of load-shedding may come sooner than expected

Load-shedding may come to a permanent end sooner than expected as Eskom’s performance has dramatically improved and the private sector continues to invest in alternative energy sources.

Partner and renewable energy expert at BDO Nato Oosthuizen said these developments have caused some to forward their expectations for the end of load-shedding. 

Eskom’s performance has improved significantly in 2024, with the country experiencing over 60 consecutive days without load-shedding. 

Some South Africans have voiced their scepticism regarding this improvement, saying the utility is playing political games to boost the ruling ANC’s chances of winning the national elections later this month. 

Oosthuizen understood this criticism but explained that the data shows concrete changes at Eskom to improve its performance in 2024. 

Firstly, Eskom has fixed some of the problems at its biggest plants. The utility has reported a 9% reduction in unit breakdowns since April 2023 and spent 50% less on diesel last month compared to the previous year. 

The utility is predicting that the country can expect load-shedding to be limited to stage 2 for the winter months.

Secondly, changes in management and an aggressive maintenance-led recovery strategy have greatly improved the performance of Eskom’s coal-fired fleet. 

The utility has achieved a 65% Energy Availability Factor (EAF), an essential performance metric for Eskom, as it directly affects load-shedding and shows that its fleet is becoming more reliable.  

The return of Medupi Unit 4 (800 MW), Koeberg Unit 2 (980 MW), and the synchronisation of Kusile Unit 6 (800 MW) will add another 2,580 MW to the grid in the next six months, helping it to limit load-shedding.

Thirdly, Eskom has finally agreed to move away from monopolistic control and invited the private sector, along with international funders, to participate in the recovery process. 

As part of this, the state incentivised households and businesses to install rooftop solar, which will reach an installed capacity of 6,000MW by year-end. 

This has contributed significantly to national energy needs by giving Eskom the space to conduct improved maintenance and build up reserves to manage peak demand in the evenings. 

Partner and renewable energy expert at BDO Nato Oosthuizen

The South African Reserve Bank said in April 2024 that improvements in power stability are happening quicker than previously projected. 

As a result, it reduced its forecasted impact of load-shedding on the South African economy.

Eskom chairman Mteto Nyati said earlier this month that a permanent end to load-shedding is near, with the utility’s performance stabilising and gradually improving. 

Nyati explained that the lack of recent load-shedding is due to improved performance at Eskom, which is driven by better plant maintenance. 

Extensive maintenance has been conducted at Eskom’s coal-fired power plants, which has made them more reliable and enabled the utility to reduce load-shedding. 

The utility had been plagued in the past with poor maintenance, which resulted in units tripping soon after their return to service. This made Eskom’s generation fleet unreliable and caused wild swings between load-shedding stages. 

“It is only a few weeks until the elections, and we are going to hit that and continue to have no load-shedding. What are you going to say then? It is going to be yet another conspiracy theory,” Nyati said. 

“What is important is that our people at Eskom have done what many people thought they could not do. Many people thought this was a dead horse, and this horse now appears to be running.” 

As a result of this work, Nyati said that load-shedding will soon become a thing of the past. 

“We can see light at the end of the tunnel, and we are confident, with the team we have, that the end of load-shedding is near.”


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