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Load shedding: Outlook not good

Eskom plant performance is dire.
Load shedding returns with a vengeance. Picture: Bloomberg

Eskom announced on Monday the second consecutive day of load shedding and as on Sunday, it does not start with phase 1, but jumps directly to phase 2. However, phase 2 was quickly stepped up to phase 4 by lunch time on Monday and is expected to continue until 22h00 this evening. 

This means Eskom has to shed 4 000MW of generation capacity to balance demand and supply and protect the national grid from total collapse.

On Sunday Eskom said: “This is as a result of a shortage of generating capacity. There is also a need to replenish and preserve emergency water and diesel resources to limit load shedding possibility or magnitude thereof in the following week.”

Read: Now there are eight stages of Eskom misery

While the demand is generally lower over the weekends and one would expect Eskom to be in a position to meet it, the utility uses weekends to replenish the diesel stock for its emergency open-cycle gas turbines and pump the water out of its pump-storage schemes up the mountain to be ready for power generation when needed during the week.

These are two levers Eskom has at its disposal at relative short notice to supplement power supply, especially during the morning and evening peak periods. The pump storage schemes generate electricity when water falls from height, turning the turbine to set the process in motion.

Once the water has collected at the bottom of the scheme, it has to be pumped up to height before it can once again be used for power generation.

On Monday Eskom stated: “Although a number of generating units have returned to service as per the 9-point recovery plan, regrettably additional units continue to trip. This results in a shortage of generating capacity.”

According to Eskom’s Weekly system Status Report, the plant performance has been dire:

Over the last 14 weeks, the availability of the fleet has fluctuated between 67.63% and 61.86%.

Measure this against Eskom’s 80% target and the 78% it assumed in its initial tariff application for the next three years.

Energy regulator Nersa told Eskom to revisit this number and Eskom adjusted it to around 72%, but even that might be unachievable in the light of the current 60-odd percent availability, regulator members said during the Nersa public hearings about the proposed tariff increase.

In its latest Weekly System Status Report Eskom disclosed how the peak demand in week five of 2019 compared with previous years:

Also compare the 28 880MW peak demand in week 5 with Eskom’s Net Maximum Capacity, which includes power imports and emergency generation resources. All in all, Eskom should have 46 292MW of generation capacity at its disposal, which would give it a generous reserve of 17 412MW.

But no, there is a supply shortage of 4 000MW.

Eskom’s three-month forecast does not look promising.

In at least eight of the next 13 weeks, (this one included), Eskom forecasts that it will not be able to meet its reserve target and possibly not demand, which means load shedding is highly probable. In the week of 6 May it forecasts a definite shortage of demand and therefore load shedding is a certainty.

That is also the week during which South Africans will go to the polls for the general elections.




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Keep voting ANC, people.

And to think, they had a head start over the rest of Africa. All they had to do was keep the lights on…

… if we look at the rest of Africa eventually total collapse it will be…unavoidably.

I fear most people are missing a key point.

– Before 1994, the most severe economic sanctions of its time, were imposed on SA – YET: there was never any loadshedding. Most people did not even know what it meant.

– In fact SA produced some of the cheapest and most cost effective electricity on earth – with ample spare capacity.

– Here is a short list of some of the power stations built under the National Party government (when SA was still a first world country):

In the twenty five year preceding 1994, Eskom built and commissioned ELEVEN power stations, with a total capacity of 35,000MW.

1. Kendal PS : 1982 – 1993 ; 4116MW

2. Majuba PS : 1983 – 1996 ; 4110MW

3. Matimba PS : 1988 – 1993 ; 3990MW

4. Lethabo PS : 1980 – 1990 ; 3708MW

5. Tutuka PS : 1985 – 1990 ; 3654MW

6. Matla PS : 1974 – 1983 ; 3600MW

7. Duvha PS : 1975 – 1984 ; 3600MW

8. Kriel PS : – 1979 ; 3000MW

9. Arnot PS : 1968 – 1971 ; 2100MW

10. Hendrina PS : 1970 – 1976 ; 2000MW

11. Grootvlei : – 1969 ; 1200MW

In the twenty five years following 1994..???

The pre-1994 government over-built power stations, and many had to be mothballed. The opportunity cost of this overbuilding has not been measured, but it diverted significant spending from other sectors of the economy. For example, we could have had proper public transport infrastructure, instead of the minibus taxi industry, if the money wasn’t diverted to redundant power stations at the time.

The problem is the unwillingness of governments to let go of Eskom and end the vertical integration, a characteristic of both the Nats and the ANC.

The ANC’s other real failing is the lack of willingness to liberalise the electricity market, going back to 1999, when the writing was on the wall, for fear of its radical allies, and for its cadre deployment, which now allows factional battles to be waged across the state.

A taste of things to come. Just take a look at Nigeria. It has 29 generating plants. 2 are not operational. On a good day it generates 4,500 MW in total. That’s all. When loadshedding started there, there was power most of the day with just a few hours of load shedding per days. The loadshedding hours increased steadily until electricity is mostly off.

Your observation is spot on!

An hour ago, Eskom announced (for the 1st time) “stage 4” (out of 8) load-shedding. Previously the highest stage was “3”.

Just more generation (in 1,000 MW bands) not available on the grid.

S’Africans will be “looking forward” to higher stages…a “taste of things to come” as you remarked.

I need to get out of this country! Its challenging enough navigating crime and poorly maintained infrastructure. Now we cant seem to move electrons through cables. There are mining operations operating at >92% up-time. Why can Eskom not do the same with their plants considering the amount of cash they throw at problems?! I really wish it was easier to distance oneself from emotions and sentimental value in which case I would be residing in a different time-zone.

Suggestion: When Eskom develops the urge for load shedding, start with Soweto.
Reasons being: 1. it is big enough to be significant and 2. they don’t pay in any event.
It might even motivate the Sowetans to also pay their electric bill.
If that does not shed enough, start adding all the other laggards until the quota is achieved.

Now your reasoning is logical and appeals to common sense. The big but, however, is that the “laggard” places you refer to are the centres of voter breeding. All the free stuff (houses, electricity, water) with grants thrown in. Now who amongst the majority of our IQ challenged citizenry will not vote for that? They might protest here and there at the inconsistent service delivery, but better the devil you know than a return to apartheid (or so the narrative goes). And so down the slide of misery and mediocrity we plod away.

I know, I know. Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Maybe a little seed can grow on barren land.

Geez – This forum is more negative than the Beeld newspaper – Which is really saying a lot! – Yes we are in for a tough time – Did you guys really think change is going to be that easy – The proposed changes are hurting a lot of very powerful and wealthy people – Of course the are going to disrupt any process that will weaken them – How many of the doom and gloom predictions on this forum has actually come true? A lot of positive things are happening in the country as well.

I think it’s okay to want something better for my country. Maybe you’re fine with mediocrity at every turn, but I’m not.

I believed in the dream of a new SA in 1994. That dream has been dead to me for a while now, and it hurts.

Our population is in the process of making a sharp left turn, whether EFF supporters or ANC, and that really doesn’t bode well for the future. I believe capitalism can do a lot for Africa, but it seems most of our voting brethren don’t share that sentiment.

My ancestors arrived here over 300 years ago as religious refugees, and I think I’ll be leaving as an economic refugee. Not exactly what I had planned for my life.

No I’m not fine with mediocrity, I hate it. Is that what I said? I had a few friends that emigrated to the USA. They have had a very rude awakening (especially with the banking system and cost of health care and a few other things). Yes we have problems but they are solvable. Still an amazing country.

Well, Gemini, you (and the rest of us) are also in for a rude awakening soon regarding the banking system and especially healthcare. With the difference that we will not even be able to buy the latter at any price.

Go back to sleep, Gemini.

What I find truly amazing is that it is the same people complaining all the time. You don’t have to like my comments (frankly I would expect no less). If there is really no hope why don’t you just leave? There are enough dodgy 2nd passport/Visa schemes out there. By the way I have had a friend in the UK ask me for a job in SA because the IT market in the UK is dead (all outsourced to India). Anyway have an awesome day 🙂

Gemini, oh Gemini, you sweet deluded soul.

If nothing else, a pig-headed stubbornness and inability to face the facts will save the day.

Oh, really Chop Your Dollar – So what is your master plan out of this mess – To sit and moan the whole time? So where are you of to? Surely if you saw this mess coming you have a plan B or C or D etc. Or are you just one of those people that have a problem for every solution?

For sure Gemini. What you are experiencing is the “slow cooking of a frog in a pot” phenomenon 😉

Doom and gloom predictions not becoming true, you say?
Take crime in SA. Back in the 90’s everyone ridiculed the notion that crime would get out of hand….And now?

Yep, lets all get personal – If you are so negative what are you still doing here>

Crime has decreased since the 1990s.

Maybe you are a product of ANC education and cannot do arithmetic. Eskom has R420bn (that they admit) of debt that the company simply cannot service from cash flow but it is still “generating” R500m of debt every month. Now it cannot even meet SA’s reduced 27 000GWh with an installed capacity that can generate 45 000 to 48 000GWh, close to 60% availability and no sign of action or improvement. Splitting into 3; ha ha.

SA debt is over 50% of GDP; add Eskom’s and its over 60% in all likelihood. Growth is maybe 1% to 2% LESS than population growth.

This is the territory of economic collapse. Zero to do with “hurting a lot of very powerful and wealthy people” unless you mean the ANC Big Menand trade unionista benefiting from wholesale looting and theft in SA.

I agree with Milo C, Chev & others.

SA Govt is run little different from other African countries. SA just a bigger ship to sink. There are a few African countries with long standing power-rotation (..whatever we called it) only for 2 or 3 hrs a day at any given place. The end result of inheriting a fairly sound power grid, and it decays through decades of maladministration & increased population growth. The utility’s abilities shrink over time and crosses at a certain point with increased population growth. Then Africans accept to “share power” for a few hours a day with other citizens. A way of life. Nothing usual for the continent. SA is part of it. Saffas still enjoy a fairly good life.

My bigger concern is WATER. SA is already a water-stressed country, and we already have maladministration firmly in place. First we’ll also have water-shedding, and a decade or more down the line, everyone accepts it you’ll need to take turns to have running water in taps.

SA a lovely country…make no mistake. In future one cannot continue to expect western-economy benefits, if there is a disdain amongst some political movements to counter everything “western” the past decade or longer (e.g. maintaining rule of law / little corruption / discipline / uphold of property rights.) Something has to give & it will. A country’s infrastructure does not physically shrink in size…instead it slowly breaks apart (with the parts not working taking up a larger % over time). And Africa has an abundance of time…

…and the whole idea for getting a financially struggling power utility to get back on track, is TO PRODUCE MORE of their product, so that MORE customers can use it, and can be charged accordingly. A business principle Eskom ignores.

Instead load-shedding is used a fear-mongering tool to get Nersa to give in to request for tariff increase (…i.e. making Saffas known how important electricity is an any economy, we cannot do without. So we pay more.)

So now with load-shedding (shame, overstaffed employees cannot even generate more power…they’re powerless) LESS income is derived….so what happens….?

….the State (us taxpayers) bails Eskom out. So within our PAYE & company tax, we indirectly pay for electricity also.

I just gone through a “rotational” blackout in a northern suburb of Joburg – but why must it be 3.5 hours at a time. This is the third blackout experienced in my suburb – the shortest being 3 hours, the last two at 3.5 hours. I now sit with a quandary – do I continue to pay my electricity bill or do I just stop paying and steal electricity like so many others as these blackouts are totally indiscriminate and cares not a fig whether you are paid or not. A more appropriate approach to these blackouts would be to suspend salaries of all Eskom and City Power personnel for the duration of these blackouts. So today somewhere within RSA there will be blackouts from 10 am to 10 pm so personnel would receive the equivalent non salaries for 12 hours – given that they supposedly work an 8 hour days the personnel could well lose 1.5 days salary per 12 hour cycle of blackouts. If this was instituted we would experience minimal blackouts

At least you don’t have the DA there taxing you monthly in your rates bill for the priveledge of being connected to the electricity grid… whether or not electricity is actually supplied is of no relevance to them.

And then the DA will tax you on your nicely-installed PV system once they have you registered in their database (R6500 fine if you don’t register it).

DA = ANC-Lite.

The ANC also charges a connection fee, don’t be misled. However what really makes me angry at the DA (the party I have always voted for) is that they are leading the charge to tax private PV systems, something that they should by rights have NO claim on and which the country needs desperately. This is the one thing that will make me reconsider my vote for them.

Good point! What is fair is fair. (They’ll also save PAYE-tax on their next smaller payslip, so there’s one positive)

Parent/brothers live in the Bromhof/Ferndale/Randpark Ridge/NorthRiding region…even without load-shedding there’s plenty of power cuts due to “technical” issues.

Back in Klerksdorp, am bracing for our 4pm to 8h30pm load-shedding turn.

My long-battery backup home-office “YOU-PEE-ES” will be working overtime!

At Graham

Should apply that principle of power-cut = pay-cut to the cabinet!

And also to Parliament. In fact, Parliament should be FORBIDDEN to access any form of stand-by power during “normal” load-shedding!

Leadership 101: Leaders should be the FIRST to suffer the consequences of their decisions.

“…. On Sunday Eskom said: “This is as a result of a shortage of generating capacity…..”
But If I remember correct Eskom is now selling the amount of electricity they sold in 2008?
And now there’s a shortage?
O Well………..
Go buy candles and paraffin while the refinery still has electricity…………

invest in USD and rand hedges…the ANC will make you rich with their imcompatance

oh when you type to fast…spelling

For load shedding every single ESKOM ex member of the board( Example MOLEFE ,ANOJ SINGH) should have no Electricity for 2 days for every 1 day of load shedding. All their personal electricity generating equipment should be confiscated. NKANDLA in KZN for Zuma should have no electricity and no equipment to generate electricity. SOWETO should lose all electricty until they repay the R16billion outstanding and that goes for other suburbs who are behind in payments. Suck it up and sit in the Dark you thieving value destroying imbeciles………………. I want a refund of my monies paid to eskom so i can take that money and go and buy SOLAR panels as clearly Eskom have not got an ability to produce power no matter how much money you throw at them. This has been going on since Thabo Mbekis days! Medupi and Kusile are proof of this!!!!

3 days after SONA and the wheels fall off! It’s a very very sorry “state of the nation”!!!!
A lot of finger pointing and blame – no accountability!

This is NUMSA’s retaliation for threatened job cuts.
Zuma told them to employ extra people, look to him again for the blame.

Never in the world has one cretin managed to do so much damage in so short a time, but he dun nuffing.


Only in SA would such a cretin *be allowed* to do so much damage in so short a time!

this is what happens when a country does not run a merit based system for jobs…. and mediocrity is not only tolerated, but encouraged…..

End of comments.





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