South Africa

Big trouble ahead, warns Andre de Ruyter

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has warned that there is big trouble ahead and advised Western Cape Premier Alan Winde to “do what you can”.

Winde announced that the Western Cape aims to add 750 megawatts of supply by 2025 and to reach 5,700 megawatts by 2035.

The plan was designed after Winde met with De Ruyter to seek advice on how the province should approach energy provision.    

De Ruyter told him to become independent as quickly as possible as there was “big trouble ahead and, you know, do what you can”.

His advice should not come as a surprise as he has previously warned that load-shedding was set to worsen.

Speaking to The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield in February, De Ruyter said there are serious problems that have to be addressed.

“Three units are out at Kusile, and it will take a year to bring them back. Kusile 5 needs to synchronise to the grid, which should happen in July,” he said.

“We also have a unit off at the Koeberg power station for a life extension project for most of the year.”

De Ruyter did not mention the catastrophic hydrogen explosion, which caused tremendous damage to Medupi unit 4. It is not clear when it will be restored.

The former Eskom CEO said many of these issues should be resolved by the end of 2023. “If that is the case, and it looks doable, the outlook from 2024 onwards will be better.”

It does not mean that load-shedding will be a thing of the past because substantial new capacity needs to be added to the grid to stop power cuts.

De Ruyter also told My Guest Tonight With Annika Larsen that 2023 is going to be a tough year for load-shedding.

He said South Africans should expect at least stage six power cuts, and possibly worse, during winter.

The former Eskom CEO is not the only expert warning that the worst is yet to come in terms of load-shedding.

Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association of South Africa said that Eskom is reviewing the load-shedding framework to prepare for load-shedding to exceed stage 8 in the future.

It is a proactive measure for Eskom and municipalities to be ready to respond should it be necessary.

“Eskom’s grid is at a critical stage, and no professional can guarantee that South Africa could not go beyond stage 8 load-shedding,” he said.

Eskom’s acting head of generation, Thomas Conradie, said they are revising the code of practice, which can extend its load-shedding schedule to stage 16.

He said it is responsible for the new rotational power cut document to cater to higher load-shedding stages.

The new document would avoid a situation where Eskom will need to “jump around” to reduce the load on the grid beyond stage 8.

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