Coal still meets 80% of SA’s energy demands – utility-scale power generation report

Only 6.5% of the demand for energy is met by renewables, with only a noticeable increase from wind.

The year 2022 saw the country moving closer toward renewable energy, albeit this move is still very minimal.

According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Statistics of utility-scale power generation in South Africa H1 2022 report, South African saw an increased demand in the first half of 2022 (likely as a result of economic stabilising post-covid) compared to demand during the first half of 2021.

As such South Africa saw 54 GW of wholesale/public nominal capacity.

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But coal is still king

At least 80% of that demand, however, still came from coal, with only 6.5% coming in from renewables with a noticeable increase from wind (the remaining 13.5% from nuclear and diesel but still not showing a significant increase).

This after 3 443 MW of wind became viable for attaining in SA from 1 Nov 2013 to 30 Jun 2022. Around 2 212 MW of largescale solar PV and 500 MW of CSP also became operational in the country during that time. Despite this, energy sourced from solar remained unchanged at 2.2 GW, with the higher volumes coming in during January and February this year, given that it is the country’s peak summer months. Coal produced 39.3 GW of energy, also remaining unchanged.

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Load shedding

For the first half of this year (January to June), the country experienced 876 hours of load shedding, with 1 598 GWh shed. The most common stage of load shedding during that time was stage 2.

While May and June were the months that saw the most amount of electricity produced, it was during August and September that saw the least, with the country experiencing its worst load shedding yet, overtaking the year 2021 by a long shot and exceeding 2019 by almost 10 times the amount.

From January to February this year, the country has thus far experienced 1 949 hours of load shedding.

September 2022 on its own experience more load shedding than in the whole of 2020.

Planned outages vs unplanned outages

CSIR said the Eskom’s fleet EAF continued its declining trend in 2022, with an average EAF of 59.4%, compared to the EAF of 61.7% for 2021 and 65% for 2020. The report attributed this largely to the increase of unplanned outages.

Planned outage is a power interruption that occurs when suppliers switch off electricity supply at a substation or other portion of the network in order to execute maintenance and/or emergency duties to correct defects.

Unplanned outages are when systems crash and were out of control of the supplier. According to the stats, unplanned outages were increasingly trending in a worrying direction. With infrastructure under such severe strain, substation explosions were not uncommon.