South Africa

Stage 7 load-shedding warning

Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex, said South Africans should brace themselves for consistent stage 7 load-shedding from July.

2022 was the worst year of load-shedding South Africa has ever experienced, and we have already reached stage 6 load shedding in the first two weeks of 2023.

Monique le Roux, senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said South African is facing another decade of rolling blackouts.

Her prediction is based on the fact that it would take ten years to execute essential infrastructure projects to upgrade Eskom’s power grid.

Although solar and wind power plants could be built quickly, the grid doesn’t have the capacity to bring power from where it’s generated to where it’s needed.

“Unfortunately, those good wind and solar resources are located in provinces —the Northern, Western, and Eastern Cape — where there isn’t a lot of demand,” she said.

“Those lines that carry the power from the South of the country where the good wind resource is have been completely utilised. They’re running at full capacity.”

As a result, it isn’t possible to add more power generation capacity in the South to serve people in the North of the country.

Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex

Attard Montalto added that the failure of all bids for wind power in the recent Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) is a reminder that the end of power cuts is still a long way off.

“There was no grid to connect these projects because spare grid capacity that Eskom showed at the time of bidding had subsequently been taken instead by private off-taker projects that could reserve the grid space faster than the cumbersome REIPPP bids,” he said.

The core problem is that the urgent need for transmission grid expansion has never been taken by the scruff of the neck and driven forward.

“As such, the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape are now full and, given the current pace of transition, will remain so until well into 2027 or beyond,” he said.

It means there is no quick fix to South Africa’s electricity shortage by adding renewables to the grid.

The continued power shortage and the collapse of Eskom’s coal-fired generation fleet mean South Africans should prepare for longer and more frequent power outages.

Attard Montalto said their forecasts show that South Africa will, on average, experience stage 6 load-shedding from February and stage 7 from July.

The peak may be higher, suggesting that South Africans will face stage 8 or higher load-shedding this year.

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