Eskom, the power company in South Africa, shared important information today about the state of the power system and what to expect during the upcoming summer months from September 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024.
During the briefing, Eskom’s Acting Group Chief Executive, Calib Cassim, acknowledged the challenges caused by load shedding for the country and its people. Eskom’s goal is to minimize load shedding, with a focus on not exceeding Stage 4 by managing unplanned power losses within a scenario of 14,500MW for the summer of 2023.
Cassim mentioned some positive developments during the winter period, where load shedding was less intense than initially predicted. However, Stage 6 load shedding was implemented for 39 out of 153 days due to higher-than-expected unplanned outages. Eskom also managed to limit load shedding to the afternoon and evening peak hours in June, reducing its impact. Despite these improvements, Eskom recognizes that more work is needed.
Regarding the performance of power generation, Bheki Nxumalo, Generation Group Executive, reported positive results from the Generation Operational Recovery Plan. Some power stations, like Medupi, Duvha, Majuba, Hendrina, and Tutuka, have shown significant improvement, with Medupi and Lethabo achieving an average of 85% energy availability from June and July. Additionally, peaking power stations have consistently performed well.
There are also positive developments at Koeberg Power Station and Kusile Power Station, which are expected to contribute additional megawatts to alleviate pressure on the power system. Tutuka Power Station achieved 1,500MW earlier than expected, and efforts at Majuba and Kriel Power Stations are expected to yield more megawatts.
Nxumalo acknowledged that while unplanned load losses haven’t reached their target reduction, there is a declining trend, and Eskom is intensifying its efforts to reduce these losses and improve energy availability.
Monde Bala, Group Executive for Distribution, highlighted six key demand reduction areas aimed at saving 250MW during the summer period. These programs complement other initiatives to relieve pressure on the national grid, such as Small-Scale Embedded Generation, microgrids, electricity wheeling, the Standard Offer Programme, and community co-operatives.
Segomoco Scheppers, Group Executive for Transmission, presented three unplanned loss scenarios for the summer, with Eskom aiming to keep load shedding at or below Stage 4. The most likely scenario is a loss of 14,500MW, resulting in an anticipated 116 days of load shedding. The other two scenarios project higher losses and more days of load shedding, but Eskom is working diligently to keep these numbers as low as possible.