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By Hein Kaiser


Expect electricity availability to plummet after elections, warn experts

Longest blackout hiatus may mislead; experts warn of post-election plummet, with inadequate renewable energy to meet demand.

The country is presently enjoying the longest hiatus of blackouts since December’s extended period of light. Almost three weeks and counting.

But people should not be lulled into a false sense of security.

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“Expect electricity availability to plummet after the election,” chief executive of Affordable Power Solutions Ben Janse van Rensburg, said.

He attended a power symposium recently, hosted by a financial institution, that painted a bleak picture for the balance of the year, post May’s polls.

“They showed a big spike upwards from June with no power,” he said.

“Despite the current respite, everyone is concerned. Renewable energy and privateers are not yet able to fill the gap when demand spikes in winter.”

In an opinion piece posted on Nedbank’s Private Wealth blog, economist and political analyst JP Landman wrote this year that government’s Integrated Resource Plan provided for blackouts for another four years.

Landman wrote: “The prognosis of load shedding continuing until 2027 is premised on a very realistic energy availability factor of 49% to 51%. The only scenario in the 2023 Integrated Resource Plan where load shedding is overcome, is with an energy availability factor of 66% to 69%.

“Given the trend in Eskom’s energy availability factor, that is wishful thinking.”

READ MORE: Load shedding to remain suspended as Eskom sustains its generation capacity

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said in recent media reports that Eskom’s energy availability factor has hovered around the 50% mark since reaching 60% last October.

Eskom had set itself a target of 70% energy availability by 2025. Presently, on aggregate, South Africa is approaching 20-year lows of power.

An old and poorly maintained grid is also a threat. Ekurhuleni has had a spate of prolonged outages recently, Boksburg was without power for two weeks in March and Alberton had five-day bouts of darkness.

Landman said consensus suggested that South Africa needs 6 000 megawatts added to the grid every year to sustain economic growth.

“The Presidential Climate Commission recommended 50 000 to 60 000 MW of new renewable capacity over 10 years, plus 3 000 to 5 000 MW of new gas. But for the seven years to 2030, the plan only provides for 28 000 MW to be added.”

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Electricity energy Eskom Load Shedding