File photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – South Africans can expect a load shedding-free weekend as Eskom last night said there was “no probability of load shedding for the rest of the weekend”.

“Our aim is to provide as much predictability to ensure South Africans can plan their lives accordingly,” the power utility’s acting group chief executive, Jabu Mabuza, said at a media briefing last night. 

Stage 1 load shedding would be rolled across the country today.

Mabuza said the recovery of the utility’s systems were “short-term focused” while they operated with an “old, unreliable system”.

On Wednesday, Eskom surprised the nation when it rolled out Stage 2 load shedding.

“The severe supply constraint being experienced has come about due to high levels of unplanned breakdowns that have exceeded the 10 500MW limit. The supply constraint is caused by, among others, five generating units that are unavailable due to boiler tube leaks.

“In addition, a conveyor belt supplying Medupi Power Station with coal failed on Saturday, October 12, resulting in low volumes of coal being supplied to the power station, thus limiting the generating capability to approximately half the station’s output,” Eskom said.

The load shedding on Wednesday came as matrics were supposed to write their computer applications technology exam.

Basic Education Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said yesterday that they were considering whether matrics would rewrite.

“We are getting reports from all provinces in terms of what happened on day two of the exams, which is also day two of load shedding. Once we have done that a decision will be taken. Right now there’s no decision as it would premature to take a decision before all the facts have been established,” said Mhlanga.

The SA Wind Energy Association (Sawea) said they viewed the current energy constraints as a “clear symptom of Eskom fleet’s reduced energy availability factor (EAF) and a reminder that the country needs to procure new generation capacity in order to bring the EAF to healthy levels again. 

“The industry and country eagerly awaits the gazetting of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), following Cabinet’s approval yesterday of this long-awaited plan. 

"This follows Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s address at the recent Windaba that a decommissioning plan, for ageing coal power stations, will be published as part of the IRP. 

"This is to ensure that as these power plants go offline over the next 10 years, the capacity will be replaced in order to avoid future load shedding,” read a statement by the organisation. 

Sawea said that being at a key stage of the country’s energy transition, it hoped that the country’s “plentiful wind resources will be harnessed to strengthen the country’s power mix, considering the clear evidence that renewable power costs are competitive with that of new coal”.

Cape Times