- Following several failures, South Africa hit Stage 6 loadshedding at the weekend.
- While this was downgraded to Stage 5 on Sunday, the situation at Eskom is only expected to improve by Wednesday.
- Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa says that by March the energy situation across South Africa should have improved.
The early hours of Saturday morning saw Eskom moving to the highest stage of loadshedding for the year so far, Stage 6.
As South Africans are likely well aware, once Eskom declares Stage 5 – and higher – loadshedding, power cuts can last for as long as four hours. On Saturday, following the decision to take two generating units offline, Stage 6 was implemented.
While loadshedding did get a downgrade to Stage 5 on Sunday afternoon thanks to the return of some generation units to service, South Africans will likely only see lower stages of loadshedding later in the week.
At the weekend, minister of electricity, Kgosientso Ramokgopa briefed the media on the power grid’s performance. In short, boiler tube leaks at power stations and other issues saw 4 400MW of capacity removed from the grid between Wednesday and Friday. Together with 7 000MW removed for planned maintenance, the electricity grid simply couldn’t meet the demand of South Africans, even at the weekend.
“We are expecting to return [the other units] that failed… by Wednesday. By Tuesday, we are expecting to see a significant reduction, going back to stages 4, 3, 2, and 1 [of load shedding]… As part of planned maintenance, a significant portion of units will come back towards the beginning and end of March, where we will be moving from 7 000MW, to lower levels of between 5 000MW and 6 000MW, where you are going to see significantly improved intensity of load shedding,” Ramokgopa said.
While Ramokgopa said on Sunday that generation units at Matimba and Kendal were expected to return to service, it appears as if their contribution to the national grid wasn’t enough to move the needle away from Stage 5.
The minister of electricity says that by March there should be significant improvements to loadshedding.
Of course, days ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the worst of loadshedding was behind us and yet here South Africans sit beset by Stage 5 power cuts. The electricity minister says that planned maintenance will begin to wind down toward the end of March which is good news as demand tends to climb as we move toward the Winter months.
Whether Eskom will be able to meet the demand of South Africa when the temperature drops remains to be seen.
For now, things aren’t looking hopeful for both South Africans and the government as we prepare to vote in 2024.