Tuesday, 03 May 2022 20:07

South Africa heading for another record year of power outages.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africa's energy supply appears to be worse than previously anticipated and is already on track for another record year of outages, say economists at Absa bank

"To put this into context, 2021 was the worst year ever for load shedding, but in the first four months of this year, Eskom has implemented load shedding roughly for the same number of days, but at a much higher intensity," the bank said in a research note on Tuesday (3 May).

  • Absa's baseline scenario is that load shedding continues at approximately 2021 levels this year, but begins easing into 2023.
  • An upside scenario will see load shedding risks abate over the second half of 2022 due to good progress with embedded generation and successful Eskom maintenance.
  • A downside scenario will see Eskom’s operational woes intensify and load shedding escalates and remain an issue through to 2025.

While Absa noted that some reform progress had been made in recent months – including the launch of a sixth electricity bid window and Cape Town's plan to independently procure power – the bank cautioned that much still needs to be done in the electricity sector, and municipal electricity distribution remains a thorny challenge.

Eskom updated its load shedding forecasts for South Africa's winter months in April, with the power utility warning that outages are likely to continue unless it can manage unplanned outages.

In a media briefing in April, Eskom laid out three scenarios:

  • In the best case, Eskom said that if it can keep unplanned outages below 12,500MW then there will be zero days of load shedding in the coming months.
  • A medium-case scenario would see the country face seven days of load shedding,
  • In an extreme scenario, the country would see 101 days of load shedding.

The power utility moved to stage 2 load shedding on Tuesday afternoon, with outages set to continue for the rest of the week.