Could South Africa face years of blackouts? Yes, says Eskom, until 2027

South Africa could be stuck with load-shedding until 2027, Eskom predicts. Stock photo.
South Africa could be stuck with load-shedding until 2027, Eskom predicts. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/beercrafter

South Africa could have load-shedding until 2027, Eskom predicts.

A medium-term adequacy report recently released by the power utility painted a worrying picture that its troubles will not be resolved soon. 

The report aims “to assess over a five-year period the electricity supply shortfall risks that may arise based on foreseeable trends in demand and generation capacity in SA”.

According to the document, this year has been the worst in terms of load-shedding and the situation will deteriorate as Eskom’s fleet continues to trend downwards, power stations close and demand grows.

“The worst-case scenario shows the energy required to restore the system to adequacy is 18 terawatt-hour (TWh) in 2023, increasing to 30 TWh in 2027. The energy gap of 18 TWh in 2023 is equivalent to Matla Power Station production at full load,” said the report. 

The worst-case scenario will also see the energy supply gap increase by 40% over the next five years, it said. 

Eskom will have a negative outlook for 2023 to 2027 if its fleet shows no signs of new or improved generation capacity, the report predicted. 

More load-shedding this week

Eskom implemented stage 6 load-shedding on Wednesday and it will continue until Friday. Thereafter, it will implement stage 5 until Saturday.

The power utility said stage 6 was due to a high number of breakdowns, and the requirement to strictly preserve remaining emergency generation reserves.

Speaking on eNCA, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the power utility is not ruling out stage 8. 

“The reality is that Eskom can implement up to stage 8 load-shedding and the teams are doing everything possible to avoid increasing beyond stage 6.”

Possible load-shedding next year

Load-shedding is predicted to continue until at least March next year. 

“Eskom’s worst-case scenario is an assumption of unplanned unavailability between 13,500MW and 15,000MW for winter and between 14,500MW and 16,000MW in summer. 

“This shows 104 days of load-shedding could be expected in winter and 191 days in the 2022/23 summer,” public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said in a written parliamentary Q&A

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said the province will establish a cabinet-level task team to mitigate the impact of blackouts. 

“Eskom has been upfront about this. Load-shedding will likely worsen as it seeks to improve the reliability of our energy infrastructure through its proposed maintenance plan. There will be more pressure on the power grid, along with the possibility of unplanned breakdowns of generation units. We will do everything we can to ameliorate this in 2023,” he said.

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