Eskom predicts 100 days of possible power cuts during winter
André de Ruyter said forecasts on possible load shedding in the winter season were more like predicting the weather.
South Africans should brace themselves for at least 100 days of rolling blackouts during the coming winter months, according to Eskom’s scenario planning.
The power utility on Tuesday morning briefed the media after it announced stage 2 load shedding would be implemented from 5 pm until 5 am on Wednesday.
Eskom said the latest bout of power cuts was due to a shortage of generation capacity as well as the heavy rains and floods lashing KwaZulu-Natal.
Eskom’s national control manager, Gavin Hurford, said they previously projected that there would be 61 days of possible load shedding during winter, due to the parastatal’s ongoing maintenance programme.
But Hurford said the scenario had changed over time and they were now predicting at least 100 days of rolling power cuts this winter.
“We do scenario planning because we can’t get a definitive answer because of the uncertainties. The answer is within a range.
“The range that we have looked at for this winter is between 12,000 and 15,000 MW of unplanned unavailability. Based on those scenarios, we would be anywhere between up to about 100 days of load shedding for winter,” he said.
Hurford stressed that the scenario was not conclusive as the number of days of possible load shedding was dependent on several factors.
“Those 100 days would be in the extreme,” he said.
“We don’t stay in that extreme situation every hour of every day of every month. So, one would expect it to vary in that range and certainly, there will be some load shedding.”
Hurford said the power cuts would be during peak hours in the evening when electricity demand is usually high.
“These probabilities are based on the uncertainty that we see in the fleet historically as well as looking forward. So, there will be load shedding in that range, but I don’t believe we can put an exact number to it at this point.”
Eskom chief executive officer (CEO) André de Ruyter said their forecasts on possible load shedding in the winter season were more like predicting the weather.
“We think about load shedding in terms of probabilities given the fundamental lack of reliability and predictability that we see from the generation system,” De Ruyter said.
According to De Ruyter, Eskom’s maintenance programme would be scaled back during the winter months as demand for electricity is usually high.
“In spite of the higher demand it should give us breathing room to be able to keep load shedding as low as possible.”
Eskom warned the constrained power supply situation would persist throughout the rest of this week.
This means that stage 2 load shedding was likely to be implemented after Wednesday morning should the generation capacity deteriorate further.
“We are managing the emergency generation reserves to limit the stage of load shedding. The overnight load shedding will be used to replenish the dam level at the pump storage power stations in preparation for the remainder of the week.”