Eskom confirms Stage 8 on the cards for winter months

  • South Africa’s power utility says that high winter demand could increase loadshedding to Stage 8 in the months of June, July and August.
  • If it suffers breakdowns amounting to 18 000MW during this period, Stage 8 will be implemented, and loadshedding will occur every day.
  • Eskom hopes to recover its generating performance in the next two years.

The winter outlook for loadshedding has long been discussed, with Eskom executives and even the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, telling the media at various times that South Africans should brace for higher stages of loadshedding as the temperature decreases.

At a media briefing on Thursday morning, Eskom’s interim chief executive Calib Cassim shared the utility’s outlook for the colder months of June, July and August, and it doesn’t look good.

“The winter outlook indicates an increased risk of supply shortfall against expected demand,” Cassim explained. “With our worst-case scenario indicating that loadshedding could intensify to Stage 8, if our interventions are not successful.”

The implementation of Stage 8 would be an unprecedented moment in the ongoing energy crisis. Since loadshedding first began in 2007, Eskom has never before had to increase outages to Stage 8 – this means three four-hour loadshedding blocks a day, according to popular app EskomSePush.

Eskom is forecasting a winter peak demand to exceed 33 000MW. It says that current unplanned electricity losses have deteriorated to around 16 000MW, impacted by breakdowns at Kusile, Medupi and maintenance at Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.

This loss of supply has South Africa in rotating Stage 4 and Stage 6 loadshedding. The utility adds that in the winter months if breakdowns cause a loss of around 18 000MW, like it was experiencing on the weekend, and the forecast peak demand materialises “loadsheding will be required everyday and will be implemented up to Stage 8.”

It highlights July and August as months that will be particularly vulnerable to Stage 8. A maximum of Stage 7 can also be expected for the months of May and June. Meanwhile, it looks unlikely that loadshedding will drop below Stage 6 if the forecasted demand continues.

Cassim adds that Eskom increasing loadshedding to Stage 8 doesn’t mean that the national grid’s integrity is vulnerable. Something that the company continues to say.

“The increase in loadshedding levels does not mean there is a greater risk of national blackout, instead loadshedding is one of the processes we use to prevent such an occurrence by managing the demand for electricity at a given time,” he says.

Eskom hopes to increase electricity supply for the winter period by reducing its unplanned losses in the generation fleet, managing planned maintenance to the minimum level of maintenance required over winter, and increasing diesel burn at its open cycle gas turbines.

Basically, the same thing it has been doing for the last five months, bar slowing down on maintenance for its plants. It hopes the Generation Operational Recovery Programme will be able to recover Eskom’s performance of its plants within the next two years.

“Despite all these efforts,” says Cassim, “more needs to be done to reduce the level of electricity demand, specifically during the peak. We believe the public can greatly support efforts to mitigate impact of the energy crisis especially over the winter period.”

In April, Eskom announced that it was working on a plan to recoup 1 500MW of electricity from residential customers and smaller businesses through something it calls “demand side management.

[Image – Photo by Dhivakaran S on Pexels]


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