The energy crisis is worsening, and load-shedding is increasing exponentially as a result, said Warrick Pierce, principal researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) energy center.
Speaking at a media briefing today, Pierce said the level of load-shedding in December 2022 was more than in any other full year.
Eskom’s generation fleet has steadily declined to a point where, in 2022, the fleet had an energy availability factor (EAF) of 58.1%.
This is a decline from 78.7% in 2017.
If the EAF was in the area it had previously been, we would not be in the situation we are in, said Pierce.
The decline of the generation fleet is multicausal but EAF is the key metric in understanding why the energy disaster has arisen. There is enough capacity on the grid but that capacity is not available to produce energy frequently enough, said Pierce.
“At some point, you have to say we can’t keep delaying this maintenance,” he said.
Load-shedding is the symptom of the energy problem in the country but it is not the source of the issue, said Pierce.
More than 4.5 times as much electricity was shed in 2022 than in 2021.
80% of the energy shed in 2022 was taken off the grid in the second half of the year, said Pierce.
11,529 gigawatt hours were shed from the grid in 2022. There were 2521 gigawatt hours shed in 2021.
Pierce said the question is not whether we can stop load-shedding but whether we can stop load-shedding going above stage 6.
There has been a substantial increase in unplanned plant maintenance over the past five years.
There are two key metrics to look out for to see a reversal in the current trend:
- A stabilisation in the EAF level.
- The procurement of more megawatts onto the grid.