According to the power utility’s own forecasts load shedding will last at least eight of the next 13 weeks.
The Citizen reports the grim reality of this is that it could last all the way into the general election.
Load shedding, says the newspaper, will “weigh on the country’s economy and psyche this year, with projections already suggesting it will continue to plague South Africa for months to come”.
In eight of the next 13 weeks, Eskom says it will not be able to meet its reserve target and possibly not demand, which means load shedding is highly probable. In the week of 6 May, when South Africans go to the polls, it forecasts a definite shortage of demand and therefore load shedding is a certainty.
Eskom said earlier today it was in the second consecutive day of load shedding and, as on Sunday, it did not start with phase 1, but jumped directly to phase 2. However, phase 2 was quickly stepped up to phase 4 by lunch time on Monday and is expected to continue until 22h00 this evening.
This means Eskom has to shed 4,000MW of generation capacity to balance demand and supply and protect the national grid from total collapse.
On Sunday Eskom said: “This is as a result of a shortage of generating capacity. There is also a need to replenish and preserve emergency water and diesel resources to limit load shedding possibility or magnitude thereof in the following week.”
While the demand is generally lower over the weekends and one would expect Eskom to be in a position to meet it, the utility uses weekends to replenish the diesel stock for its emergency open-cycle gas turbines and pump the water out of its pump-storage schemes up the mountain to be ready for power generation when needed during the week.
These are two levers Eskom has at its disposal at relative short notice to supplement power supply, especially during the morning and evening peak periods. The pump storage schemes generate electricity when water falls from height, turning the turbine to set the process in motion.
Once the water has collected at the bottom of the scheme, it has to be pumped up to height before it can once again be used for power generation.
On Monday Eskom stated: “Although a number of generating units have returned to service as per the 9-point recovery plan, regrettably additional units continue to trip. This results in a shortage of generating capacity.”