Home News Eskom and their plans to end loadshedding

Eskom and their plans to end loadshedding

by Luqmaan Rawat
Eskom has many plans to end loadshedding including permanent loadshedding for the next two  years Photo iAfrica

South Africa  – South Africa will be facing permanent loadshedding for the next two years. Similar to the constant loadshedding the country has been put through the last year, with just a little transparency to the matter. 

During a media briefing on Sunday, Eskom chairperson, Mpho Makwana, made the announcement. This comes as Eskom tries to turn things around and bring an end to loadshedding. While the plan is welcomed, it sheds light on how broken down Eskom truly is.

Eskom is currently battling to keep the lights on due to the many breakages and trips occurring at various power stations throughout the country. Two power stations in particular, Medupi and Kusile, were meant to be fully operational but are not. Kusile’s chimney failure, which rendered three units offline, combined with Unit four at Medupi, are responsible for the  shortfall of approximately 2 900MW in generation capacity. This is equivalent to three stages of loadshedding.

Medupi 4 is expected to be up and running by September 2024 while the temporary stacks for Kusile are expected to take around 12 months to design and construct. Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is also operating at half of its generating capacity. When all the long-term projects and breakdowns are combined, it amounts to 4 500MW of generating capacity being lost. Which is equivalent to five stages of loadshedding. 


Getting Eskom back on track using COP funds 

Eskom’s outgoing CEO, Andre de Ruyter, plans to use a significant part of the $8.5 million pledge made by Western countries during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) to expand the grid. This expansion is to ensure room for private producers to deliver electricity. Prof. Harro von Blottnitz, Director of Energy Systems Research Group, believes this is the right move from Eskom. However, using the COP funds to burn coal “would be totally unacceptable to the donor countries”.

“This course of action is fully consistent with government’s ‘just energy transition investment plan’ released in November 2022, who drew on leading expertise including ours at the Energy Systems Research Group at UCT to draw this up. Grid expansion was top of the list of things that need to be done to enable our energy transition and it should enable large amounts of cheap electricity from world-leading renewable solar and wind resources to come onto the grid.”

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Eskom being rescued by private companies

Eskom is also planning to buy power from private companies. These companies are expected to introduce 9 200MW of electricity when connected to the grid. For von Blottnitz, this is a smart move and could offer consumers electricity at a cheaper price. It is approximately 10x cheaper than burning diesel in generators.

“We have a burgeoning and competitive private power development industry that can deliver new projects speedily and cost-effectively. Eskom does not have that capacity. This new power will be much cheaper than Eskom’s current costs, and so it should take pressure off future cost increases.”


Increasing the EAF

A startling admission made at the media briefing was Eskom’s Energy Availability Factor (EFA) sits at around 58%. Von Blottnitz however, believes the  EFA is more likely around 52%. In contrast, the global average is 86%. Eskom plans to increase it to 60% by March 2023 and  70% by March 2025. There are various methods to increase it, one being to retire old coal plants, explained von Blottnitz. 

“We must remember that half of Eskom’s coal-fired fleet is due for retirement between 2020 and 2030. One way to make this indicator look better is to actually retire old plants with very high rates of breakdown. Bringing back the three units of Kusile and unit four of Medupi, contributing 795 MW each, by the end of 2023 should help significantly, as should a successful life extension of Koeberg, which is now underway.”

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The possibility of stage 8 loadshedding

De Ruyter gave some joy to South Africans when he ended the speculation of stage 8 loadshedding occurring saying, “The possibility of stage 8 loadshedding is receding”. Von Blottnitz is in agreement with de Ruyter, however it does not mean stage 8 loadshedding cannot happen. 

“It was ‘probable’ or even ‘fairly likely’ at the start of January. I would say it still is ‘possible’ though ‘somewhat unlikely in the short term’. Much depends on how many Eskom generating units have trouble at the same time. We must also hope that there is not another major long-term failure on a critical item. And much also depends on how fast new private generating capacity is coming online, both large-scale and ‘behind-the-meter’, by home-owners and companies.” 


Announcing to the world South Africa faces permanent loadshedding 

The country is in a dire state. There are many who wish to invest in South Africa and the permanent loadshedding announcement will do little to attract them to the country. Many will be wondering if Eskom made the right move with the announcement. Von Blottnitz firmly believes they did make the right decision. Investors do not like to be left in the dark and this announcement will help them make a more informed decision. Businesses also know what to expect and can now plan for it.

“I believe that it is correct to be upfront and transparent. Investors most of all need planning certainty. Many of us, privately and in business, have now learnt to cope with stage 2 loadshedding, through smart additional equipment, investing in own energy generation, or adapting our habits to the situation.”

Although businesses are more informed about the future, it doesn’t mean they can take the necessary measures to protect themselves from loadshedding. For eg. The Newcastle Mall, which houses more than 30 shops, is practically dead during loadshedding. Only a few major outlets remain open while the rest of the shops pull down their shutters and wait for the lights to come back. When shops in malls cannot escape the high costs of generators and diesel, what chance do smaller businesses have?

Where did it all go wrong for Eskom

Loadshedding is not something the older generation is familiar with. This is a product of the current government who failed to deal “with structural questions”. All they did was change leadership and personnel, explained Prof. Harro von Blottnitz, Director of the Energy Systems Research Group.

“Despite there being lots of ‘energy politics’, South Africa has surprisingly little formal ‘energy policy’. Attempts to introduce new energy policy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and again the 2010s, were squashed in parliament. Key decision-makers repeatedly belittled the imperative and reality of the global energy transition. Their dismissive attitude is one of the root causes of system failures. Maybe I should also mention that we never had an economic ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission in this country. We have an organisation built for the purposes of the Apartheid state that is trying to cope with the needs of a democratic state.”


Is Eskom doing enough to solve the issues at hand

Eskom has announced different plans to try and end loadshedding for future generations. While South Africans are fed up with the company and don’t have any belief Eskom can turn it around, von Blottnitz believes Eskom are doing everything they possibly can.

“In my understanding, they are doing just about all they can. But as an organisation, Eskom needs to be transformed. People working in the electricity supply sector ought to have the choice to work for an employer of their choice, where they can feel proud and valued members of society, not viewed with contempt and suspicion.”

With loadshedding set to continue permanently for the next two years, it might be time for South Africans to invest in renewable energy. All is not doom and gloom though. Despite claiming he could not intervene in NERSA’s statutory process, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that he had asked Eskom to suspend its plans to increase electricity tariffs by 18.65% while talking to his followers at the Free State ANC’s provincial conference. Eskom has acknowledged his request but only time will tell if they will suspend the electricity hike.




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