- Eskom has implemented Stage 4 power cuts as of 01:00 on Friday morning, the worst so far this year.
- The utility says that a few generating units had failed on Thursday and required repairs.
- The announcement comes mere hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africa was on a clear path to end loadshedding and that the worst was already behind the nation.
Is that the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme I hear? Mere hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the end of South Africa’s loadshedding problem was on a “clear path to ending” and that it was “finally within reach” at Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Eskom announced that it would enact Stage 4 power cuts for the first time in 2024.
Loadshedding was still at Stage 2 during the address which started at 19:00 in the evening. At 21:11, Eskom announced that it would have to increase rotating outages to Stage 3 indefinitely. Then at 1:14 on Friday, the utility saw two more generation units go forced offline, which leads to Stage 4 cuts “until further notice.”
The utility said that it initially moved to Stage 3 on Thursday in order to replenish its pumped water storage levels which are “required to meet the morning and evening peak loads.” Added to this, one generating unit was taken offline for repairs.
South Africa’s energy crisis featured as one of Ramaphosa’s talking points during SONA.
The president made claims that his government was on the right path to fix loadshedding through the onboarding of more private power suppliers to the national grid, the connection of more than 2 500MW of renewable energy with “three times the amount” in the pipeline, and the implementation of “sweeping” regulatory reforms aimed at allowing more private investment in order to bolster the weakened energy grid.
“These are phenomenal developments that are driving the restructuring of our electricity sector in line with what many other economies have done to increase competitiveness and bring down prices. Through all of these actions, we are confident that the worst is behind us and the end of loadshedding is finally within reach,” Ramaphosa said.
“To ensure that we never face a similar crisis ever again, we are reforming our energy system to make it more competitive, sustainable and reliable into the future. We are going to build more than 14,000km of new transmission lines to accommodate renewable energy over the coming years,” he added.
Unfortunately for the president, Eskom’s abrupt move to the highest stage of outages seen so far this year dismantles his insinuations that the worst is behind the nation in terms of the energy crisis. If Eskom’s energy grid is still so unstable that it requires worsening outages to maintain stability during the early morning when power demand is at its lowest, then we still have a long way before the actual end of loadshedding is in sight.
Eskom is expected to make a further change to the loadshedding schedule on Friday afternoon.