Photo: Jan Ford / Flickr
Photo: Jan Ford / Flickr
We’d congratulate Eskom for going four months without implementing load shedding, but that really would be a case of rewarding them for doing the bare minimum. However, it seems the utility is on the rocks once again this week.
Reports surfaced on Tuesday morning that Eskom were “struggling to meet demand” due to a shortage in capacity. Although the firm isn’t yet willing to call in an early warning for load shedding, energy expert Ted Blom definitely is.
Blom is one of South Africa’s most-respected energy analysts, and you would have seen a lot of him during the power cuts we experienced in December, February and March. He’s held Eskom to task successfully for the past two decades, and in his opinion, we’re heading for more blackouts:
“I’m aware of the troubles Eskom are having. Let me just start by saying, Zimbabwe are running short of their supply from Eskom not because of money woes, but because of electricity shortages. The same is happening with our output to Namibia and Botswana.”Ted Blom
Blom also remembered the crisis briefing Gordhan and his Eskom colleagues delivered four months ago. Their nine-point plan has indeed managed to keep the lights on throughout winter – and crucially, a general election – but it seems that time is now running out for Eskom. As predicted by the minister himself:
“Pravin Gordhan – who’s now ‘running Eskom’ – had previously suggested [in March] there would be no load shedding until August. It looks like we’re now heading to that point. I think, before the end of winter, we’ll get load shedding. If one large generational unit falters, that could put us at Stage 1.”Ted Blom
As we reported in March, Gordhan told reporters at a press briefing that “there was good news to speak of”. Without hesitation, he revealed that he and his team were confident enough to rule out load shedding up until August, with only Stage 1 cuts forecast in the worst-case scenario.
Despite the initial joy, it would seem like reality is returning to bite Eskom on the arse. But the ailing SOE isn’t throwing in the towel in just yet, despite Blom’s predictions. They have cited units returning from outages and their fully-functioning cycle turbines as reasons for why they won’t have to plunge South Africa into darkness.
In another reason to be cheerful, Eskom recently announced that Unit 3 at the Medupi Power Station has completed its reliability runs and control demonstrations to attain full commercial operation status. Getting this station online before the end of winter will be key to fending off another round of load shedding in South Africa.