Load shedding pushes past 2019 levels – CSIR

It translated into losses of between R60bn and R120bn to the economy that year.
The research body has provided three key intertwined steps as an ‘emergency response’ to deal with the country’s energy shortage. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

South Africa could experience load shedding for the next two to three years if urgent steps are not taken to mitigate against energy shortages. 

This is according to research presented by Dr Jarrad Wright and Joanne Calitz of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) presented on Tuesday in a joint webinar with GreenCape. 

The presentation – ‘Addressing South Africa’s electricity crisis and getting ready for the next decade … and now Covid-19’ – is a build on earlier work done at the beginning of 2020 tracing the impact of load shedding in 2019, which saw a record 1 352 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy shed, meaning 530 hours of outages. This translated into losses of R60-120 billion to the economy. 

The CSIR says load shedding experienced in 2020 has already overtaken 2019 levels, with 1 383 GWh being shed – that’s 661 hours of outages – so far this year. 

Energy availability factor 

“An urgent response is necessary to ensure short-term adequacy and set South Africa on a path towards long-term adequacy in the 2020s … this is now even more urgent as a planned post-Covid-19 economic recovery takes shape,” the presentation states. 

Under lockdown, Eskom experienced a significant drop in demand from consumers as most industries went offline, with peak demand dropping from an expected 33.4 GW to 30.7 GW while minimum demand dropped to 13.8 GW. 

Despite this, the country moved between Stage 1 and Stage 2 load shedding over seven consecutive days as opposed to the three days of Stage 1 scenario that Eskom had envisaged in its ‘winter plan’. 

Speaking to the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday, Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said this was a reflection of the unreliable and unpredictable generation fleet which has had major maintenance deferred over the past years. 

Eskom has launched an energy reliability project to improve its energy availability factor (EAF), which is the utility’s capacity to generate electricity, to between 70% and 74% from 2020 to 2023. 

De Ruyter said that while the reliability maintenance programme is completed the country still faces a residual risk of load shedding until September 2021.


As the country moved up the various Covid-19 lockdown levels to Level 3, where the majority of economic activity is permitted, demand has returned to normal, increasing pressure on the grid.

The CSIR’s latest projection, however, shows a lower EAF and demand forecast than that forecast by Eskom as well as the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019. 

Coming off a base of 67% in 2019, Wright said that to date in 2020 the EAF seemed to be “tracking the lower bound” scenario at 66% as opposed to the increase envisaged in the IRP. 

In the updated CSIR scenario, Wright said South Africa could experience varying capacity shortages of between 6 000 and 8000 megawatts (MW) until 2025 and significant energy shortages that could see between 1 700 GWh and 4 500 GWh being shed in 2020 to 2022, and only reducing in 2023 when new capacity is assumed to come online.


Wright and Calitz have provided three key intertwined steps to deal with the energy shortages. 

The first solution is the “customer response at scale”, which Wright said is the only reasonable solution to fill the short term capacity and energy gap expected until 2022. This measure involves immediately allowing customers from residential to industrial customers to generate their own electricity through “enabling regulations” or by providing incentives programmes. 

“By no means do we say you go off-grid – it’s just self-supply options to supplement existing grid capacity that you already have,” said Wright. The impact would be reduced load shedding as the supply could come online quickly starting from 2020, he said. 

The second step involves accelerating the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s Risk Mitigation Power Purchase Programme launched to reduce the immediate and medium-term electricity supply constraints. 

The third step is an immediate focus on implementing the IRP and allowing for appropriate lead times and procurement. 

“Similar to step two, that capacity is only expected to be online from 2023 onwards but is actually required in 2022,” said Wright. “So we really need to fast-track some of those processes more than they are already being fast-tracked at the moment.”



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The private sector is already fast tracking own generation. By my estimate we have 700 MW of solar rooftop generation and based on the pace of roll out approximately 300 MW will go up in 2020. If all the mooted projects happen then 500MW or more will go up in 2021.

It would be faster if the 1 to 10MW licensing was lifted.

A rather big proportion of residential owners and small business owners are now ready and eager to implement Solution number 1 – given that i) limiting regulations get changed and ii) some form of subsidy coupled with a taxation relief scheme. The private sector suppliers are similarly ready and able to install private generation at a fast rate. It therefor all depends on government getting it’s priorities right after the erred and costly Covid-19 detraction.

Want to know how effective the ANC governs our country

Eskom is a good barometer

They break what was effective, loot what was once a well oiled machine and continue raping unabated, that which they can lay their hands on

They all have dirt on one another, thats why the ZONDO Commission is a farce, smoke screen and will lead to nothing

Much faster. but Mantashe and cronies want nothing more than to see the destruction of the Western Cape ahead of the elections.


I would have said FAR more than 700MW of non IPP solar. Just agriculture has hundreds of MW?

The next step is smart mini grids – I am looking at going from 500 kVA grid and 200 gennie supply to :
750kVA solar generation
500kVA hybrid inverters
200 kVA gennie
1000 kWh battery storage
Grid throttled at 200kVA

With that and the ability to manage some loads I can survive stage 3 indefinitely and be over ⅔ self sufficient. Fully off grid is insane investment

Wasn’t any maintenance done by eskom during lockdown when demand was at its lowest?when most factories and businesses were closed?

Eisch, I don’t know…….

What the hell ANC? What happened to “procuring emergency supply” on a short term basis. Get you act together!

And this just as the country is awaiting Ramaphosa’s announcement that we’re moving to level 2 of the lockdown! How is he going to address the nation when the nation can’t even switch their TVs on to watch his address?
How much additional load does level 2 of the lockdown place on the grid?
Now rework all the projected figures for unemployment, crime. GDP, etc, as a result of the impact of the virus on the economy and DOUBLE them!

Lockdown is a load shedding cover up

POST COVID and with an already slow economy and they can’t produce enough electricity, made worse by the fact that consumers are actually prepared to pay for said electricity, is a metaphor for the herdsman’s approach to morality, decency, humanity, intelligence, organisational skills and honesty. Why? Ultimately, the poorest of the poor will be hammered (again)

A realistic assessment unlike the overly optimistic promises by Eskom CEO De Ruyter that loadshedding will be a thing of the past by late 2021. Loadshedding has only gotten worse since 2008 anyone who believes that loadshedding will simply disappear in several months time is living in a dream world. The situation will continue to worsen as old power stations reach retirement age and the maintenance backlog caused by years of mismanagement gets bigger. If Eskom did the required maintenance we would probably have permanent stage 4 loadshedding with bouts of stage 6/8 loadshedding in between. This would be political suicide for Ramaphosa and would do terrible damage to our economy which is already in a depression. But if Eskom continues to postpone maintenance the situation will only get a lot worse, this would be fatal for our economy. All the years of postponing maintenance has come back to bite them and us. Any solution will require bold energy reforms, including a faster rollout of IPPs. Unfortunately this is not happening and it seems the ANC will do anything to keep Eskom’s monopoly even if it means destroying the South African economy.

End of comments.




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