As South Africa grapples with its ongoing power challenges, state-owned power utility Eskom has forewarned of intensified load shedding hitting higher stages in the coming days. The dire situation has prompted a surge from daytime stage 4 load shedding to stage 5, eventually elevating to the ominous stage 6 during the nighttime.
Eskom’s decision to escalate the power cuts stems from a critical shortfall in generation capacity and the imperative to replenish emergency reserves. Initially planned as a rotation between stage 4 and stage 6 until a specified date, the revised schedule now outlines a more stringent stage 5/stage 6 rotation.
Commencing from Wednesday, 29 November, the revised load shedding schedule delineates the following stages:
Wednesday, 29 November
Stage 6: 00h00 to 05h00 Stage 5: 05h00 to 20h00 Stage 6: 20h00 to 00h00 Thursday, 30 November
Stage 6: 00h00 to 05h00 Stage 5: 05h00 to 20h00 Stage 6: 20h00 to 00h00 Friday, 1 December
Stage 6: 00h00 to 05h00 Stage 5: 05h00 to 20h00 Stage 6: 20h00 to 00h00 Saturday, 2 December
Stage 6: 00h00 to 05h00 Stage and time TBA In response to these impending power disruptions, Eskom has assured continuous monitoring of the power system and pledged to promptly communicate any necessary changes to the load shedding schedule.
Authorities attribute the escalation to stage 6 load shedding to the heightened utilization of emergency reserves. These reserves were necessitated to meet the escalating demand and address persistent energy shortfalls, exacerbating the current situation.
An analysis of Eskom’s plant performance data highlights that a decrease in demand had previously enabled South Africa to manage load shedding at lower stages in recent months. However, a nationwide heatwave has triggered a surge in demand, exacerbating the strain on the power system.
Moreover, Eskom continues to grapple with persistent breakdowns and outages, accounting for over 30% of its capacity. To mitigate these challenges, Eskom has resorted to burning substantial quantities of diesel in its open cycle gas turbines. Analysts caution that this interim solution incurs substantial costs, warning of potential catastrophic consequences when the diesel reserves are depleted, leading to situations like stage 6 load shedding.
Despite Eskom’s announcement that an additional unit at Kusile has been synchronized to the grid, contributing an extra 800MW, the utility still faces monumental hurdles. All three units now operational at Kusile collectively provide 2,400MW to the grid.
For residents in major metros, access to specific load shedding schedules is available for City of Johannesburg, City of Ekurhuleni, City of Tshwane, City of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, eThekwini, Manguang, and Buffalo City. Additional load shedding schedules are accessible via Eskom’s official website loadshedding.eskom.co.za.
Furthermore, smartphone users can leverage the EskomSePush app to receive timely push notifications regarding the implementation of load shedding and the scheduled power outage timings in their respective areas.
As South Africa braces for intensified power outages, Eskom remains at the forefront, striving to navigate these challenges while urging citizens to remain vigilant and conserve energy wherever possible.