Eskom on Saturday announced stage 2 load shedding due to a shortage of generation capacity. As such, load shedding will begin at 9pm on Saturday and continue until 5am on Monday.
“This load shedding has been caused by breakdowns, numerous trips at various power stations, as well as delays in returning units to service. This has required us to rely heavily on emergency generation reserves, which are now at very low levels,” explained the power utility in a statement.
Eskom further explained that the implementation of stage 2 load shedding was necessary to ensure adequate reserves for the week ahead.
“It is necessary to preserve the remaining emergency reserves and to replenish as much as possible before Monday.”
Eskom also highlighted multiple breakdowns and trips over the past week at Tutuka, Kriel, Hendrina, Kusile, Arnot and Kendal power stations.
“While some of these units have already returned to service, this has required us to utilise extensive emergency generation reserves to supplement capacity during the week. These now need to be replenished in order to increase available capacity for the week ahead.”
What are load shedding stages?
This is where it gets tricky. There are currently four stages of load shedding (reportedly). However, Eskom has made provision for stages 6 through to 8 as well.
We’ve unfortunately experienced stage 6 already– with stages 1 and 2 being the most common – which were developed based on the possibility of risk “and to ensure load shedding is applied in a fair and equitable measure”, Eskom explains.
Each of the time periods has an additional 30 minutes added to allow for switching of networks in a way that will not damage the power system, and the frequency of load shedding increases as higher Stages are used.
Stage 1 allows for up to 1 000 MW of the national load to be shed. This is the “cosiest stage”, for lack of a better world. Outages will be implemented three times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or three times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
Stage 2 allows for up to 2 000 MW of the national load to be shed, and doubles the frequency of stage 1. Outages will be implemented six times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or six times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time
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Stage 3 allows for up to 3 000 MW of the national load to be shed. This stage increases the frequency of stage 2 by 50%, so outages will be implemented nine times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or nine times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
Stage 4 allows for up to 4 000 MW of the national load to be shed. Outages will be implemented 12 times over a four day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an eight day period for four hours at a time.
Stage 6 and 7
Stage 6 is the highest we’ve ever been shed, the dark and dreary month of December 2019. At stage 6 and 7, Eskom sheds 6 000MW and 7 000MW respectively, which means power cuts will be scheduled over a four-day period for four hours at a time.
The dreaded stage 8 doubles the frequency of stage 4, meaning Eskom will shed 8 000MW and residents will be in the dark up to six times a day, or 12 hours depending on the schedule.
It’s safe to say that South Africa will be plunged into chaos if we ever reach this point. Hospitals and critical infrastructure will struggle to remain functional, while the extended outages will also disrupt the economy.
Most citizens will be without electricity for prolonged periods, looting and crime will escalate and food production will be severely halted.