SA’s worst-ever loadshedding may begin soon

In a recent interview with MyBroadband, energy expert Ted Blom said he expects that as mining and smelting come back online under new lockdown regulations, the heavy demand increases could see Eskom face problems as soon as next week.

As the country heads into winter, a lack of maintenance due to hard lockdown and problems associated with reactivating disabled power units “will result in heavy load-shedding”, Blom said. He expects “transformers to blow up and boilers to malfunction”.

“I would not be surprised if we see the worst load-shedding we have ever seen by the end of June,” he said.

Eskom has a number of issues:

  • Under Level 4 regulations, heavy industries such as mining and smelting are coming back online
  • The utility will need to reactivate generation units which were turned off due to the significant drop in electricity demand – of 10-12GW – caused by the national lockdown
  • They have not conducted extensive maintenance on infrastructure during the lockdown period, and cannot increase its generation capacity
  • The utility is expected to need another bailout, which the country can ill-afford

Blom says that, although new CEO Andre De Ruyter stated the new maintenance model should take around 18 months, the Eskom executive has drastically misconstrued the scope of the problem – and that it would take longer than five years to resolve Eskom’s reliability issues.

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