By Paul Burkhardt for Bloomberg
South Africa is headed for a record year of power cuts if the rate of station breakdowns fails to improve, particularly at coal-fuelled plants.
State-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said it will again ration electricity on Tuesday after various generation units were shut for repairs or didn’t return to service as expected. That means nationwide cuts will have occurred on seven of the 10 days in May so far, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Africa’s most industrialised nation was already on track to exceed the annual record for energy shed from controlled blackouts, a practice locally known as loadshedding that’s used to prevent the grid from a total collapse. There were 1,054 gigawatt hours cut through April versus 2,521 in the entire year earlier, itself a record, according to a report by the state-owned Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
The crisis surrounding Eskom, which generates almost all the nation’s electricity including 80% from burning coal, causes disruption to both daily life in South Africa and economic activity. The ongoing outages have increased pressure on Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter, while government programs to build new generation have faced various delays.
Beyond the operational issues, the utility has a massive debt pile and the distraction of an ongoing reorganisation. Phillip Dukashe, Eskom’s group executive for generation, quit on Monday after 26 years at the company. Eskom and the government are also working on plans to utilize $8.5 billion of funding pledged at the COP26 climate summit with the aim of moving South Africa away from coal.
— With assistance by Rene Vollgraaff
By Crecey Kuyedzwa for Fin24
Zimbabwe has started to institute planned rotational power cuts to reduce stress on its national grid, following low water levels at Kariba Dam, generation constraints at Hwange Power Station and limited imports from Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique.
Power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company on Sunday published load shedding schedules for the whole of the country.
“The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand,” it said in a weekend statement.
While Eskom in South Africa has eight stages of load shedding, Zimbabwe has announced only two stages for now.
The power supplier divided the country into seven regions, and then further into districts or suburbs. It has given each district or suburb a numerical code.
This code is then checked against a regional table which has two time periods: Morning peak – between 05:00 and 10:00, and evening peak, between 17:00 and 22:00.
When power is cut, suburbs that fall within the time period lose power.
The same suburbs or districts will not generally have power cuts over the same day’s morning and evening peaks. When load shedding moves to Stage 2 and “increases beyond the planned limit” power to additional suburbs will be cut. The power cuts will be in five or eight hour blocks in different areas of the region or district.
Zimbabwe has had to implement power cuts, in part, due to poor rainfall in 2018 and 2019 that led to reduced inflows into Kariba Dam. The dam’s hydroelectric power stations supply electricity to both Zimbabwe and Zambia
Over the years Zimbabwe has been topping up its power supply by importing an average 100MW of power from Eskom and Mozambique, but will be forced to look for more given the current crisis.
Power imports from South Africa’s Eskom also cannot be guaranteed, with the power utility facing a fair share of its own challenges.
Analysts say the impact of the power cuts will be significant to industry, which cannot easily turn to the use of generators amid limited availability of fuel.