Eskom issues stage 8 load shedding warning, saying winter drives up energy demand

Eskom’s acting CEO Calib Cassim. Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/AfricanNewsAGency/ANA

Eskom’s acting CEO Calib Cassim. Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/AfricanNewsAGency/ANA

Published May 18, 2023


Eskom has warned that there is a great likelihood that it could implement Stage 8 load shedding this winter as the demand for electricity increases due to the cold weather.

The struggling power utility presented its latest Status of the System update and its winter outlook plan this morning.

Eskom has intensified its rotational power cuts programme to Stage 6 load shedding to prevent the grid from total collapse as unplanned breakdowns amount to more than 16 000W of generating capacity.

The utility said that should load losses deteriorate to 18 000 MW and the forecast peak demand materialise, this could result in load shedding beyond stage 6 driven by a variance of 4000MW in the Unplanned Capability Loss Factor.

Eskom’s acting CEO Calib Cassim said the winter outlook indicated a significant risk of demand and supply imbalance.

Cassim said the scenarios of the winter outlook indicated that load shedding could intensify to Stage 8 if Eskom’s interventions are not effective.

“The winter outlook indicates an increased risk of supply shortfall against expected demand, with our worst-case scenario indicating that load shedding could intensify to Stage 8 if our interventions are not successful,” Cassim said.

“However, the increase in load shedding levels does not mean there is a greater risk of a national blackout, instead load shedding is one of the processes we use to prevent such an occurrence by managing the demand for electricity at a given time.

“Efforts to reduce and ultimately end load shedding require us to work together to drive interventions both on the supply side (improving available generation) and demand side (reducing peak demand).”

Cassim acknowledged the devastating impact on the economy of intensified load shedding, despite several positive developments to address Eskom’s challenges.

Eskom group executive for generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said several enablers were being implemented to ensure that the Generation Recovery Programme was successful.

Nxumalo said the Generation Operational Recovery Programme was being implemented to sustainably recover the performance of the plants, but said demand-side management would also go a long way to protecting the grid.

“Despite all these efforts, more needs to be done to reduce the level of electricity demand, specifically during the peak,” he said.

“We believe the public can greatly support efforts to mitigate the impact of the energy crisis, especially over the winter period.”