Eskom, South Africa’s national electricity utility, has provided an optimistic update on the anticipated load shedding stages for the upcoming summer months and early 2024. In a media briefing held on Wednesday, Calib Cassim, the Acting Group Chief Executive, shared insights that shed light on the power utility’s plans for managing electricity supply during this critical period.
Lower Load Shedding Stages Expected
Eskom is cautiously optimistic about a reduction in unplanned breakdowns, which is expected to translate into lower stages of load shedding. This announcement comes as a relief to South Africans who have endured significant power disruptions in recent years.
The Possibility of Higher Load Shedding Stages
Despite the positive outlook, Cassim was careful to acknowledge the possibility of higher load shedding stages. He mentioned that, according to Eskom’s projections, the highest stage of load shedding anticipated in the near future is Stage 4. However, Cassim clarified that this doesn’t rule out the possibility of Stage 6 if unplanned outages were to increase significantly.
Cassim stated, “Our base case of 14,500MW [UCLF] shows a maximum of Stage 4 load shedding in terms of the outlook. Does it mean we are saying that there’ll be no stage 6? No, we are not saying that. If the unplanned outages increase to the outer scenarios of 17,500MW, then you would utilize Stage 6 to protect the integrity of the grid.”
Understanding the Projections
Eskom’s projections are based on an expected Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor (UCLF) of 14,500MW, a notable improvement from the winter average of 16,500MW. The reduced UCLF for summer is attributed to bringing back over 2,000MW from the Kusile power station. Cassim noted that Kusile’s units are expected to return from temporary stacks and come online at the end of November and December, contributing to the more favorable outlook.
Cassim emphasized that Eskom is actively working to further improve the situation, saying, “From a management perspective, yes, we’ve got our base case, [but] we are making every effort to reduce below 14,500 MW.”
Apology for Current Inconvenience
In concluding his statement, Cassim offered an apology to the public for the ongoing inconvenience caused by load shedding. He acknowledged the impact on the economy, livelihoods, and the country’s GDP but stressed that load shedding is implemented to manage the system and prevent a complete blackout.
“Eskom does apologize for the inconvenience to the economy and livelihoods and the impact it’s having on everyone in the country and the impact on the GDP. But let’s also understand and appreciate that we implement load shedding to manage the system to avoid a blackout,” Cassim said.
Eskom’s commitment to transparency in its projections and efforts to minimize load shedding underscores the importance of continued public awareness and support for energy conservation measures in South Africa during the summer months and beyond.