Ramokgopa says lights will remain on over festive season

The minister speaks in front of broadcast media microphones.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said the outlook over the next two weeks was upbeat. File Picture: GCIS.

Published Dec 22, 2023

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Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says he is confident that there will be no load shedding in the next two weeks as South Africans enjoy the festive season.

Ramokgopa was speaking during a briefing on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan (EAP) yesterday.

He said the outlook over the next two weeks was upbeat.

“I’m confident that we’ll have a festive season with the lights on, not the candle … we will have the proper lights to make sure we usher in 2024.”

However, he conceded that the true test would come when the big industries, which have closed for the year-end break, come back online in January.

“It’s about sustaining the South African economy so you can’t celebrate the fact that you don’t have load shedding when the South African economy is gone on a temporary break. You want to have this situation at the height, at the peak of performance of the economy.”

Ramokgopa said part of the EAP was to improve the energy availability factor (EAF), which includes the rate of failure of these units and improving their efficiency.

He said the EAF to date is about 55.4% against the 60% target.

“The problem we have is that the system is healthy in periods. What we want to achieve is to ensure that we maintain that consistency that the system remains healthy.”

The minister detailed the numbers that we have been experiencing over the past 14 days.

“Essentially the average is 12 245 megawatts so it means that over that period there are 12 245MW of units that have failed or they are not giving us the amount of megawatts that we want and therefore we are losing those megawatts on the capacity available.”

He said that on December 11, for the first time in a long time, the losses had dipped below 11 000MW. However, this was not sustained.

The minister added that it was important to accelerate maintenance during periods of low demand.

“What has been our experience is that when the units have gone out on planned maintenance, when they return on average they continue to perform. They remain on load so it simply means that the maintenance regime and the discipline that has been introduced by the team is beginning to yield fruit.”

He said planned maintenance was averaging about 7 800MW.

“The available generation capacity is sitting at 27 700MW and the demand is averaging 24 695MW, and that’s why you are not seeing load shedding.”

Independent energy economist Lungile Mashele said the Christmas weekend should remain load shedding-free provided there was no significant increase in demand, adverse weather or a loss of units.

Mashele said this has been the most difficult year for load shedding – in frequency and intensity.

“This year was worse than the 15 previous years cumulatively.”

She said load shedding was a result of poor plant performance, increased industrial demand leading up to the winter season, a lack of quality maintenance, the loss of three units at the Kusile power station and the delay in returning to service unit 1 at Koeberg.

“Given that the last two issues have been rectified, I don’t anticipate that level or intensity of load shedding again,” she said, adding that South Africa would continue to experience load shedding in 2024.

The Mercury