Brace for Stage 8 loadshedding, says expert

Power and mining expert Ted Blom has warned South Africans that they should brace themselves for the worst year of loadshedding yet in 2021, with Stage 8 being a possibility before the end of winter.

In the latest episode of the Free Marketeers podcast, Blom provided his analysis of the utility’s situation and a prognosis for loadshedding in the next year.

The highlights of Blom’s predictions include:

  • Eskom is understating the amount of power it was actually shedding from the national grid
  • Eskom already interrupts 2 000MW of supply to its big customers when it announces load-shedding for the general public (so Stage 1 load-shedding or shedding 1 000MW is in fact a 3,000MW shortage)
  • Eskom is capable of handling about 11 000MW of shortages before having to implement load-shedding
  • The utility’s outlook for the next three months in its latest system status report showed a near-consistent unavailability of 20,000MW or more when taking both planned maintenance work and unplanned outages into account
  • The deficit over the next three months would hover around 9 000MW
  • Based on Eskom’s own forecasts, 2021 is going to be the worst year of load-shedding on record

What happens during Stage 8?

Stage 8 load-shedding is implemented when 8 000MW needs to be shed from the national grid in order to prevent a total collapse of the system.

During stage 8, consumers can expect much more frequent power cuts, to be without electricity for 48 hours over four days, or 50% of the time.

The worst level of load-shedding previously experienced in South Africa was Stage 6, which was implemented in December 2019 after a technical problem at Medupi Power Station.

At the time, Eskom needed to shed 6 000MW, which meant that around 40% of its capacity had been unavailable.

Response

Eskom’s response to the outlook was that “while it endeavours to only load shed at Stage 4 or below and only when truly necessary, higher stages of load shedding could be required”.

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