Load shedding to persist, but blackout highly unlikely - Eskom

Sunday, January 22, 2023

South Africa is not in any immediate danger of a total energy system-wide blackout.

This is according to Eskom Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer, who addressed a media briefing on Sunday.

“Although the stages of load shedding have been high and for extended periods, this does not indicate that the power system is approaching a blackout.

“As long as we are in load shedding to ensure the appropriate reserves are maintained, there is no risk of any higher load shedding at this point,” Oberholzer said.

The power utility is expected to implement Stage 3 load shedding from 4pm on Sunday afternoon until 5am on Monday morning.

Stage 2 loadshedding will then be implemented from 5am until 4pm and on Monday afternoon, Stage 4 loadshedding will be implemented at 4pm to 5am.

Evening loadshedding will then be reduced to Stage 3 daily from Tuesday until further notice.

Oberholzer explained that throughout the week, the power utility has battled severe challenges which saw the continuation of Stage 6 load shedding which ultimately dropped to lower stages.

“If we look at the week, we shut down and tripped 19 units which is about 9 300MW while we managed to return [to service] 22 units….which was 12 000MW. So we had a net gain capacity of about 2700 MW.

“The 4500MW [of long term breakdowns] is really making it challenging for ourselves because that basically represents five stages of load shedding. But…all of this is managed on a project so there’s real dedication and promise,” he said.

Turning to the power utility’s pump storage facilities, Oberholzer said dam levels at these are increasing and diesel has also been procured.

The pump storage facilities and the open cycle gas turbines [OCGTs] collectively contribute some 5700MW of emergency generation capacity and without these, South Africa would face an additional six stages of load shedding.

“We are on track to completely replenish the pump storage dam levels specifically at Ingula and Palmiet while we have some challenges at Drakensberg and the reason being that the two of the four pumps are out of service for planned maintenance.

“We have procured about 50 million litres of diesel that will be used as and when required and to make sure that we manage the pump storage dam levels and to make sure that we reduce the stages of load shedding during the day,” he said.

Oberholzer warned that although lower stages of load shedding are being implemented, the situation remains unpredictable.

“While there has been some improvement in available generation capacity, allowing us to drop the stages of load shedding, we’ve also seen an increase in demand for electricity as industry and businesses try to catch up on lost production.

“This, combined with the unpredictability and unreliability of the generation fleet, makes planning quite difficult and this may result in changes to load shedding at short notice in the week to come,” Oberholzer said.

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said although the power utility continues to face challenges, these are being addressed in collaboration with government.

“I would like…to offer my sincere apology for load shedding and the huge and widespread disruption that this has caused to many parts of our economy but also to the daily lives of all our citizens.

“This is highly regrettable and I can give the country the assurance that the Eskom team is hard at work in collaboration with the National Energy Crisis Committee [NECOM] as well as our partners in various government departments to address the issues that have led us to the current situation and to find sustainable solutions going forward,” de Ruyter said. – SAnews.gov.za