Eskom Warns SA Could Face Up To 27 Days Of Loadshedding If Unplanned Breakdowns Soar

South Africa could face up to 27 days of loadshedding in September if unplanned breakdowns soar up to 16 000MW as Eskom prepares to conduct plant maintenance that could not be done during the winter months.
This was a warning from Eskom yesterday as the power utility presented the anticipated power system performance for the coming 12 months to Parliament’s Joint Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and Mineral Resources and Energy.
Eskom’s general-manager for system operator Isabel Fick yesterday presented three scenarios which would determine the level and severity of loadshedding from this month.
Fick said Eskom was assuming it will have 13 000MW of unavailable capacity throughout the year in its base case scenario, with 2 200MW of emergency operating reserves within its generating capacity.
However, Fick said unplanned outages could expand to 14 500MW in the middle-case scenario and up to 16 000MW in the worst-case scenario.
Fick said the plan as a whole was fraught with uncertainty, but the system could face additional loadshedding stages in the event of any significant outage slips and unexpected industrial action.
She said due to the 4 000MW uncertainty in unplanned unavailability, scenario planning was necessary to determine the likely outlook.
“If we do operate within the base case, we are not expecting any days of loadshedding [in September],” Fick said.
“However, if we do operate within the base case plus 1 500MW, we do expect 19 days of Stage 2 loadshedding. And the same goes for base case plus 3 000MW, we expect 27 days of loadshedding.”
Fick said all resources and funding must be made available as needed to execute this plan as any changes would have a knock-on effect that would influence the plan from that point forward.
“The success of the plan relies on sufficient diesel to support the power system during periods of high Unplanned Capability Loss Factor,” she said.
“Without sufficient diesel to power the 3 000MW of Open Cycle Gas Turbines, 3 additional stages of load shedding could be added to the scenarios shown below.”
Eskom warned that the risk of loadshedding would remain high during the upcoming summer period through to August 2023 as the utility continues its maintenance programme.
South Africa has already endured 91 days of loadshedding in the year to date, from 1 January to 29 August 2022, and an additional 18 days of load curtailment at Stage 1 and 2, and 2 days at Stage 3.
Fick said there were 77 days of load shedding in this financial year (since 1 April 2022), compared to 65 days of loadshedding in the last financial year between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022.
She said the conditions for loadshedding were well known.
“I think people know we have had shortages in generation, we have had serious increases in unplanned unavailability of our plants, then we have some limitations in our fuel availability, of course our emergency reserves need to be replenished, and poor coal quality.”