05 A waitress stands and waits for trade in a Nuno's shop.Open for trade ,business as usual for a Nino's franchise at Bank City JHB CBD. Power outage due to a electrical fire at a sub station in JHB CBD . Picture: Antoine de Ras. 28/07/09

Johannesburg - This week, it’s back to work, back to school - and probably back to load shedding.

“The power system is expected to be extremely constrained this week as more businesses reopen, workers return and scholars go back to school. The demand for electricity is therefore expected to increase with moderate risk of load shedding,” said Eskom.

“The system remains vulnerable, meaning any extra load or faults may necessitate load shedding.”

Eskom started the week with just over 32 000MW available. Load shedding looks imminent on Tuesday night with a margin of less than 100MW. Eskom says there is 30 277MW available to meet the expected evening peak demand of 30 180MW. Wednesday night is similarly tight. Thursday is worse, with demand forecast as greater than available supply.

By Friday evening, the problem eases a little. Last Friday, Eskom implemented the first load shedding of the year. That reduced demand to 28 358MW, which was met by the available capacity of 28 634MW. This week, Eskom has just under 4 000MW offline for planned maintenance, which is low compared to recent weeks.

But the utility also has 7 374MW offline for unplanned maintenance. Although this is high, it is slightly better than in recent weeks.

The generating capacity offline this week is thus 11 289MW, the lowest reported in Eskom’s twice-weekly state-of-the-system bulletins since late November.

On Monday, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) blamed Eskom’s woes for halting the sector’s recovery, saying the power problems were reflected in the 1 percent decline in manufacturing production numbers.

Seifsa chief economist Henk Langenhoven reiterated Seifsa’s previous estimate that electricity disruptions as seen during November had the potential to wipe out up to 23 percent of production.

“The warnings from Eskom are of huge concern. The actual November production numbers are better than expected, but if the situation repeats itself his year, the calculations may prove ominously close to reality,” said Langenhoven.

While growth of more than 2 percent was hoped for 2014, the reality seemed to be a contraction of more than 2 percent, he said.

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The Star