South Africa

Former Eskom CEO warns of stage 8 load-shedding

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko said South Africa is facing stage 8 load-shedding unless the power utility addresses excessive breakdowns at its power stations.

Speaking during an “Eskom Lecture” on Mzansi News, Koko said Eskom’s nominal generation capacity is 47,145MW.

There are breakdowns of 17,000MW, which means the available capacity to feed into the grid is 30,145MW.

However, there is also planned maintenance of 3,000MW, which brings Eskom’s available capacity to 27,145MW.

The system operator demands an operating reserve of 2,200MW, which leaves Eskom with 24,945MW.

There is an additional 1,000MW available through the privately owned Avon and Didiza peaking power plants. It lifts the available capacity to 25,945MW.

The projected peak demand in July is 34,000MW, which leaves Eskom with a deficit of over 8,000MW.

Stage 8 load-shedding will have to be implemented in this scenario to protect against grid collapse and avoid a total blackout.

“Whatever discussion we have, we face stage 8 load-shedding in July unless breakdowns are significantly reduced,” Koko said.

He did not add any renewable energy from solar and wind farms. “However, the system operator does not include renewables either,” he said.

“The problem we need to solve is reducing breakdowns to increase the base load. When you throw in renewables, it will only help to reduce peak demand.”

Solar power plants stop producing power by around 17:00 in winter, which will not help to reduce the evening peak.

Koko added that power imported from neighbouring countries would not be during peak hours. “No neighbour, other than Mozambique, will give you power during peak hours,” he said.

The table below, provided by Koko, gives an overview of South Africa’s expected power deficit during winder.

Nominal capacity47,145MW
Breakdowns-17,000 MW
Planned maintenance-3,000MW
Operating reserve-2,200MW
Avon and Didiza+1,000MW
Available capacity25,945MW
Projected peak demand in July 202334,000MW

Stage 8 load-shedding warning from other executives

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter

Koko’s concerns about stage 8 load-shedding during winter follow similar warnings from other former Eskom executives.

Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has warned South Africans that 2023 is going to be a tough year for load-shedding.

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

Eskom’s former general manager of system operations, Robbie van Heerden, said South Africa would most likely go to stage 8 during winter.

“People must realise that South Africa is in a very bad situation. Load-shedding will not go away. It will not stop at the end of the year, as promised by Ramaphosa,” he said.

He explained that Eskom’s power stations are in very bad condition because maintenance is not done properly.

“The maintenance at Eskom is pathetic. There are maintenance agreements which have not been done for two years.”

Vally Padayachee from the NRS Association of South Africa gave an even worse forecast, warning that the country can go beyond stage 8 unless serious steps are taken to rectify problems.

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

In response to this risk, Eskom is revising its code of practice to extend its load-shedding schedule to stage 16.

Eskom’s acting head of generation, Thomas Conradie, said it is responsible for the new load-shedding document to cater to higher load-shedding stages.

“The schedules are being developed upfront so that we have a more systematic approach if required,” Conradie said.

He explained that it would avoid a situation where Eskom will need to “jump around” to reduce the load on the grid beyond stage 8.


Top JSE indices