Date: April 15, 2023
The South African state-owned utility company, Eskom, has been dealing with the ongoing crisis of load shedding, causing rolling power outages across the country. Reports indicate that Eskom’s Energy Availability Factor (EAF) has been on a steady decline, with 2021 marking the worst year of load shedding in the country’s history. The EAF for 2021 was 61.8%, down from 65% in 2020 and 66.9% in 2019.
In November 2022, Eskom announced that it would embark on major capital investment projects and repairs over the next few months, which would remove more than 2,300 MW of generating capacity from the system. This would lead to an increased risk of load shedding.
The National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) released a progress report on the implementation of the energy action plan for the next six months in January 2023, as Eskom escalated load shedding. Amid renewed fears of higher stages of load shedding, Eskom confirmed that it is reviewing the current framework that governs load shedding.
South Africa has been in a near-permanent stage of load shedding since September 2022, with Eskom running out of load shedding stages. The situation has become so dire that Eskom has “technically” implemented stage 7 load shedding at one point, according to the Bureau for Economic Research (BER).
Experts estimate that Eskom would need at least R1.7 trillion to restore it to its previous state, as promises of no more load shedding have been shattered by the renewal of rolling blackouts. In a recent news update on March 31, 2023, Eskom announced that stage 4 load shedding would be implemented until 05:00 on Saturday, followed by stages 3, 4, and 2 on Saturday and Sunday.
As Eskom continues to face challenges and struggles to avoid a total collapse of its grid, South Africans will have to brace for further load shedding and power outages in the coming months.