The ending weeks of October and most of November so far has been marked by on-again off-again load shedding from South Africa’s power utility Eskom as a renewed power crisis takes hold of the Rainbow Nation.
While SA had been under Stage 2 load shedding for the weekend, for most of last week, and expected another full workweek of Stage 2 blackouts, Eskom has suddenly announced today that it will be implementing Stage 4 load shedding (three rotational blackouts a day for two hours at a time each) until Friday, thereafter it will return the country to Stage 2.
“Eskom regrets to inform the public that due to the ongoing generation capcity shortages, Stage 4 load shedding will be implemented from 13:00 [Monday] until 05:00 Friday. Thereafter Stage 2 load shedding will continue as previously communicated until 05:00 on Saturday,” reads a statement from the utility.
Eskom had been expecting seven power generation units from across its fleet of power stations to begin producing power again, but this has not materialised. A further tripping of a generating unit at its Arnot power station has pushed the utility into Stage 4. South Africa’s power grid currently lacks 14,874MW due to breakdowns across its power stations, while planned maintenance is sapping a further 5,579MW of capacity from the grid.
Yesterday, Eskom warned that it could escalate load shedding further should the current power generation situation worsen. “Since the power system remains volatile and unpredictable, higher stages of load shedding may be required,” spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said, quoted by Media24.
According to the utility, a “major incident” in Zambia on Saturday had disrupted the entire power pool of Southern Africa. That same day saw the tripping of Eskom’s Medupi and Matla power stations.
Eskom has warned that it will likely be severely constrained going into the summer of 2022 and further into the near future. Analysts have said that Eskom’s power fleet “shows no signs of recovery” and that load shedding is likely to remain, or get worse, over the short term.
Load shedding time and time again is pointed as to being one of the major hinderances to South Africa’s economic recovery, and is estimated to cost the country $1.1-million every hour that it is implemented due to the slowing of economic activities during the daytime.