Faizel Patel
Senior Digital Journalist
2 minute read
20 Apr 2022
12:16 pm

Eskom: Worst case would be stage 8 load shedding – before total blackout

Faizel Patel

Eskom CEO André De Ruyter said in the worst case, load shedding can go to stage 8.

Man with lighter in total darkness investigating fuse box or electric switchboard at home during a power outage. Blackout. Image: iStock

Eskom CEO André De Ruyter has assured the country that while the parastatal has implemented load shedding, South Africa is far from a total black out or collapse of the electricity grid.

The power utility was briefing the media on Wednesday on the current system challenges which has plunged the country into stage 4 load shedding at least until Friday.

With a number generations units breaking down, there are concerns that Eskom would not be able to meet the electricity demand, especially during winter which could cause the grid to collapse.

De Ruyter said South Africa has never experienced a system blackout.

“We do have the capability to restart the grid in the highly unlikely event that a total blackout were to occur. We also rely on our major industrial customers to support us during that time and those customers are very much involved in the planning process, but we are quite a long way away from a total system blackout or a collapse.”

De Ruyter said in the worst case, load shedding can go to stage 8.

“We have a significant buffer capacity still in the load shedding system before we approximate close to a total system black out. We are currently sitting at stage 4, the load shedding schedule provides for a further reduction in load as low as stage 8, of course we don’t want to go there.”

However, de Ruyter said Eskom needs more capacity to avoid ramping up load shedding.

“Of course, we need more capacity on the grid as urgently as we can to give us that additional safety margin that we need in order to cater for the unpredictability and unreliability of our generation system.”

De Ruyter said while the system has recovered slightly, the load forecast for Wednesday evening is trending upwards because of the cooler temperatures.

“It is anticipated to be at about 30 298 MW with stage 4 load shedding using our virtual power station as well as our reserves we are able to meet a demand of some 26 756MW. So, if you work on the assumption that there is a thousand megawatts per stage of load shedding, you can see that the requirement for stage 4 load shedding unfortunately has not yet disappeared.”

De Ruyter said there may be a possibility that stage 4 load shedding will be downgraded to stage 3 on Thursday depending on the performance and improvement of the grid overnight, adding that a number of large units are also expected to return to service on Thursday.

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