Eskom had a bad weekend, and it doesn’t look like a good week (or year) ahead for load shedding

Business Insider SA

  • Analysts expect a bad week for load shedding. 
  • And Eskom expects a bad year.
  • Unplanned outages hit 17,00MW before this weekend's electricity rationing, while maintenance outages are still high going into winter. 
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Eskom this weekend declared stage 2 load shedding until Wednesday, as generating units at four different power stations went down.

And that, experts and Eskom's own forecasts agree, is not likely to be the end of the trouble.

The long weekend's combination of 17,000MW of breakdowns and another 5,500MW of outages for maintenance set a record for Eskom's unavailable generating capacity, said energy analyst Chris Yelland

Eskom statistics show that maintenance outages are nearly as high as they were during the peak summer months (when maintenance is typically done while demand is low) while outages expressed as a percentage are at levels last seen in December, a month that capped the worst year of load shedding ever

Eskom had previously promised that load shedding would improve in 2021, as a new focus on maintenance improved the reliability of its power stations.

Eskom generating statistics
Eskom's Energy Utilisation Factor (EAF) in green, Planned Capability Loss Factor (PCLF) in yellow, Unplanned Capability Loss Factor (UCLF) in red, and Operational Capability Loss Factor (OCLF) in black, as of 17 April.

See also on News24 | Glossary of terms to assist understanding of Eskom key performance indicators

The level of outages on the weekend will spell trouble as the country returns to work on Tuesday, said energy policy specialist Anton Eberhard.

On 9 March, Eskom declared stage 4 load shedding on the back of significantly lower breakdowns – of 15,439MW – while the level of generation out for maintenance was nearly identical to that at present, at 5,505MW. 

That was due to overnight trips at four different power stations, including the new Kusile, which had to be ramped up to full production. But because it had been burning a lot of diesel in previous days, it still had to replenish the emergency reserves too, Eskom said at the time.

Combined outages of 21,078MW (most of it through breakdowns) have also seen stage 3 load shedding declared previously.

According to Eskom's current hourly analysis, demand for electricity this week should peak on Tuesday, but as with normal weeks not featuring a long weekend, will remain high until Saturday. 

At this time of year, demand is significantly lower than the three-month peaks expected towards the end of May, and again in mid June.

Eskom's forecast for the next year shows that it has planned for just five weeks during which it is reasonably confident it will be able to meet electricity demand (in green) – if nothing else goes wrong. For its "likely risk scenario", those five weeks too edge into orange territory, while the rest of the year is in the danger zone for load shedding. 

Eskom next year forecast

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