Eskom gives itself two years to address loadshedding

  • South Africans will have to contend with loadshedding for the next two years, says Eskom.
  • The latest deadline from the utility also outlines how it will repair existing power plants.
  • There is very little talk of new capacity being built – especially as regards renewable in Eskom’s statement.

At the weekend Eskom provided an update as regards its efforts to bring stability to the grid and the bad news is that loadshedding is here for a while still.

In fact, rolling power cuts are expected to be a feature in South Africa for at least the next 24 months – and if past experience is anything to go on, perhaps even longer.

The utility reports that it has an estimated shortfall in generating capacity amounting to between 4 000 and 6 000MW. The bad news is that this deficit will only climb as the current fleet ages.

At present, Eskom reports it has a shortfall of some 4 500MW of capacity.

The plan then is to address the numerous failings of the electricity system but this process is expected to take 24 months. While Eskom has said that during this time it will bring 6 000MW of capacity online during this time, we’re not celebrating.

This is because Eskom has a habit of setting deadlines and then failing to meet those deadlines. In 2020, Eskom group chief executive officer Andre De Ruyter said that by July 2021 everything that needed to be fixed would be fixed. Now, as the CEO exits, South Africans have to grapple with at least two more years of rampant power cuts.

Perhaps most alarming is the fact that – despite highlighting that its power stations only have a lifespan of 50 years – Eskom doesn’t detail new capacity and only mentions fixing old power stations. Well, there is mention of repairs to Kusile and Medupi but these power stations aren’t what we’d call reliable.

And as if to showcase just how unreliable Eskom’s plans are, after announcing Stage 1 and Stage 4 loadshedding for this week, Eskom was forced to increase the frequency of power cuts.

“Two generating units at Tutuka Power Station were shut down during the night, while the return to service of an Arnot Power Station unit has been delayed, further reducing available capacity. Loadshedding will be maintained at Stage 3 until 16:00 on Monday,” the utility posted on Twitter.

Stage 4 power cuts will then be put into place from 16:00 until 05:00 each day whereas after, Stage 3 will run from 05:00 to 16:00.

Meanwhile, South Africans are waiting for real action and instead get a buffet of excuses. Eskom points to lack of maintenance over the years, criminal syndicates and other external forces.

On Monday morning, President Cyril Ramaphosa published a letter assuring South Africa the matter was being taken seriously.

“All the stakeholders I have met over the last week, without exception, appreciate the seriousness, the depth and the complexity of the challenges we face. They have all expressed their commitment to take whatever measures that are required to restore our electricity supply and get on with the task of improving the lives of the South African people,” wrote Ramaphosa.

With the next two years set to be marked by rampant, unyielding power cuts, South Africans will likely have to invest in their own alternative or backup power solutions.

[Image – Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash]


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