Eskom’s Winter Plan to Minimise Load Shedding

With colder weather conditions expected across the country and electricity demand projected to increase, the power system is forecast to be tight for the week, Eskom has warned.

“The winter plan indicates a higher demand, with three days being extremely tight, with a high risk of load shedding.

“South Africans can make a huge difference by rallying towards the common cause of using electricity efficiently, having the collective potential of reducing demand by up to 500 MW and saving the equivalent of 1 unit at a power station,” the power utility said in a statement on Monday (8 April).

Eskom noted that it has a better understanding of root causes of breakdowns following work done by its technical review team, and has a reliable maintenance plan for its plant, with maintenance being prioritised over this period.

“We have done an extensive winter plan and review of our power system and identified the problems. While the plan gives us confidence that we may go through winter with no or limited load shedding, we are mindful of the potential of risks on a very tight power system which may result in shifts on the power system and which could result in load shedding,” said Phakamani Hadebe, Eskom group chief executive.

“We have mapped out scenarios that show that we will implement load shedding in cases where unplanned breakdowns increase to more than 9,500 MW, delays in returning units from planned maintenance or in cases of unanticipated disruptive events.”

According to the winter plan for the first week in April, three days were significantly tight with high risk of load shedding, Eskom said.

“The first few days in April have given reassurance of the integrity of our plan as we managed to avoid load shedding on three days where it was forecasted due to good performance of our plant. We managed to go through periods of high demand in the evening peak without using a lot of diesel,” said Hadebe.

Over the next two months, Eskom said it expects additional power from generation units that were out for planned maintenance which is currently at about 6,000 MW and will ramp down to about 2,000 MW towards highest demand period in May.

Two units that were on long-term outages at Kriel and Matla (1,050 MW) will also be returned to service, Eskom said.

Kusile 3 is also expected to synchronise to the grid for the first time towards the end of April. Imports from Cahora Bassa are expected to be back at full load, the company added.