South Africans should prepare for load-shedding to continue for many more years, including stage 8 power cuts this winter.
It is the warning from Robbie van Heerden, Eskom’s former general manager of system operations who used to run South Africa’s power system.
During his tenure as Eskom’s general manager, Van Heerden won the Chairman’s Award for Executive of the Year.
He told attendees at an alternative energy solutions meeting in Midstream Estate that 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.
Van Heerden spent two years with the energy minister trying to put things in place to resolve the energy shortage. However, problems run deep.
“Power stations are in a very bad condition. It is not the electricity networks – it is the power stations which are the problem,” he said.
He explained that there are numerous challenges, including that maintenance is not done properly at power stations.
“The maintenance at Eskom is pathetic. There are maintenance agreements which have not been done for two years.”
Van Heerden’s predictions are in line with those from Intellidex’s Peter Attard Montalto and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Monique le Roux.
Attard Montalto said South Africans should brace themselves for consistent stage 7 load-shedding from July.
He 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,” he said.
Le Roux, a senior researcher at the CSIR, said South Africa is facing another decade of rolling blackouts.
She said it would take ten years to execute essential infrastructure projects to upgrade Eskom’s power grid, which is needed to stop load-shedding.