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South Africa’s rare 19-day streak: No load shedding

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

South Africans have recently enjoyed an unprecedented run of almost 20 days without load shedding, a rare period of uninterrupted power supply. The national power utility, Eskom, has attributed this achievement to the sustained availability of generation capacity and emergency reserves at its power stations. Energy Analyst, Chris Yelland, has provided further insight into this extended period without load shedding.

Addressing conspiracy theories surrounding the absence of load shedding, Yelland dismissed claims that this was a deliberate ploy ahead of the elections. He stated, “I must say I don’t buy this for one minute and I don’t see any evidence whatsoever for this. It’s just idle talk by people who know very little about electricity.” Yelland urged sceptics to examine the published data, which demonstrate several contributing factors to the current situation.

Yelland highlighted that the lower level of unplanned breakdowns this year compared to the same period last year has been a significant factor in avoiding load shedding. He explained that the absence of breakdowns in units 1, 2, and 3 at the Kusile power station, which was offline this time last year, has reduced the capacity loss factor and subsequent unplanned breakdowns.

However, Yelland cautioned that this improved situation does not suggest a complete solution. He emphasized that South Africa is still operating near the edge and does not possess a substantial reserve margin. Yelland revealed that Eskom has been running its emergency open-cycle gas turbines for extended periods, a practice that should be avoided. The power utility is effectively dipping into its emergency reserves, which should be retained for actual emergencies and peak usage.

Yelland warned that a breakdown of several units could easily plunge South Africa back into load shedding. He stated, “We have to accept that we will experience periods of intermittent load shedding, and the problem is not suddenly solved.” However, he expressed optimism for the future, stating that the Minister for Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramakgopa, has indicated that a significant amount of generation capacity will be added over the next year.

According to Yelland, Eskom is gradually improving its maintenance practices and reintroducing units into service, while also adding new units. He believes that if the right steps are taken consistently over time, South Africa can indeed reach a stage without load shedding. He emphasized that this is a solvable problem that should be addressed. Yelland noted that few countries worldwide have experienced the level of load shedding seen in South Africa in recent years.

Moreover, Yelland highlighted that South Africa possesses abundant resources, including wind, solar photovoltaics (PV), and other renewable energy sources, as well as coal and nuclear energy. He emphasized that there is no reason for the country to endure the level of load shedding it has experienced.

Public view on no load shedding

“Nineteen days without load shedding is an understatement. I prefer not having to rush home and adjust my life according to Eskom’s schedule. So, 19 days without load shedding – hoping it continues longer because I enjoy planning my day as I please. I don’t need to come home and rush to get things done because of load shedding,” said one resident.

Another resident stated that not having load shedding has been great as it hasn’t been inconvenient.

Meanwhile, a third resident said, “No load shedding after all this time, and we’ve been on a hectic load shedding schedule. Now, nothing is happening. I can promise that it has to do with the elections. I just hope our people don’t fall for this. This should be an eye-opener for them to see that things are orchestrated in this way.”

VOC News

Photo: Pexels

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