Stage 8 Stage 10 Stage 15 load shedding eskom

Load shedding will be implemented over the coming weekend – Photo: Jam

Stage 8 vs Stage 10 vs Stage 15: Eskom ‘doomsdays’ explained

Have a day off, Eskom. After threatening us with Stage 8 and Stage 10 load shedding earlier this year, Stage 15 has now entered the chat.

Stage 8 Stage 10 Stage 15 load shedding eskom

Load shedding will be implemented over the coming weekend – Photo: Jam

Following a brutal round of Stage 6 blackouts, South Africans will be pressed to imagine how our power situation could get any worse. Well, as it turns out, there are a number of ‘doomsday scenarios’ that could play out – through either Stage 8, Stage 10, or Stage 15 load shedding.

load shedding eskom
Eskom has been besieged by high levels of load shedding throughout September. And the remainder of the year looks bleak. – Image: Adobe stock

Top Eskom officials have openly pondered the possibility of going beyond the worst-scheduled version of load shedding. Recently, an updated ‘worst possible outcome’ was tabled. Here’s what you need to know about the final frontiers of Eskom’s frustrating failures. Brace yourselves.

Stage 8 vs Stage 10 vs Stage 15 – and even a total blackout: Your guide to the darkest depths of load shedding…

What is Stage 8?

This is the only one of Eskom’s various ‘worst-case scenarios’ that actually has a clear and concise definition, as per the utility’s own load shedding guidance. At Stage 8, citizens could be subjected to multiple power cuts. These would total anywhere between 12 to 16 hours a day.

Eish. Stage 8 load shedding would remove an eye-watering 8 000 MW from the grid. This would cripple businesses and bring the country to a halt. The fact that Eskom have even entertained more drastic outcomes than this is utterly terrifying. But here we are…

What is Stage 10?

Earlier this year, Jan Oberholzer – Eskom’s Chief Operating Officer – entertained the notion of Stage 10 power cuts. The utterance left many observers dumbfounded, given that there’s no official guidance for anything that goes beyond the parameters of Stage 8.

When at Stage 4 in March 2022, Oberholzer suggested that a lack of diesel could force South Africa into an unprecedented round of Stage 7 outages. He then added that depleted dam levels ‘could add another three stages on top of that’ – taking SA to STAGE 10. Yikes!

We never reached that point. But for the first time, a senior Eskom official admitted that load shedding could go further than anything the firm has prepared for. Which, essentially, paved the way for Andre de Ruyter’s comments on Wednesday evening. Strap in, everbody.

What is Stage 15?

Eskom’s CEO stated that, if SA does not aggressively invest in renewable energy and relaxes its air quality standards, we may actually see Stage 15 load shedding. Although he admitted to ‘not knowing’ what that would look like, he did muse that a failure to evolve could cost 100 000 jobs.

Existing coal power stations ‘do not meet minimum emission standards’. Due to this, the embattled power utility is left with two options. Either it spends about R300 billion to retrofit the power stations with equipment to clean their emissions, or the units must be decommissioned.

Worse than load shedding? Eskom describe ‘total blackout’…

For those of you who think Stage 15 load shedding is the bottom of the barrel, you’d be sadly mistaken. Only a few weeks ago, Eskom identified their worst-case scenario. In theory, the country could go BEYOND load shedding. But this would mean entering into a ‘three-week long blackout’.

“If preventative measures like load shedding prove to be insufficient, the national grid will collapse. A blackout is unforeseen. Therefore, the system operator would not be able to make any announcements in advance.”

A national blackout will have massive implications. For the whole country. Every effort is made to stop this from happening. Depending on the nature of the emergency, it could take a few weeks for the grid to completely recover from a blackout.” | Eskom statement