S.Africa faces possible electricity blackouts this winter - CNBC Africa

S.Africa faces possible electricity blackouts this winter

Southern Africa

by Thando Matutu 0

Eskom will fall short of electricity supply this winter. PHOTO:Getty images

Winter is the season when the majority of South Africans use up more electricity than previous seasons. Electricity usage summer peak was 33,064 megawatts and peak usage rose to 37 500 Megawatts in July last year.

“This winter it’s going to be difficult like previous winters and Eskom will apply various forms of load shedding,” Andrew Kenny an Independent energy analyst told CNBC Africa.


Due to the large demand and the shortage of capacity in electricity power station infrastructure regulating electricity, Eskom will utilise methods to reduce electricity outputs.

(READ MORE:Eskom emphasises stable cash flow)

According to Kenny, Eskom will pay companies to use less electricity, introduce the emergency order which reduces electricity use by 10 per cent, they will switch off power from companies which use large amounts of electricity and will discourage the establishment of large industries which demand huge electricity supply.

“We don’t have enough generation capacity, we should have built power stations around 1995. It was obvious capacity was running out. From the year 2000 onwards Eskom has not been able to meet the demand,” he said.

Electricity load shedding has been a common trend in recent years in South Africa. There was a blackout in March 2014 the firm imposed first rolling blackouts of its kind in six years citing heavy rain as the cause for wet the coal.

“We are having big problems, Eskom has tried to use a short-term power purchase program to buy about 700 megawatts of electricity from Sasol, Sappi, sugar mills and municipalities at peak times,” said Kenny.

Kenny further explained that Eskom have retracted from maintaining the agreements with these operators due to a lack of finance. The alternative to this option would be to operate gas turbines which would require more finance.

However, Eskom acknlowledges that there is a higher demand of electricity supply countrywide in the winter but there are no plans of load-shedding.

“They [Eskom] could not afford to take the stations out they had to run them flat out and it has resulted in Eskom being more unreliable” he said.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger added, "It will be tight but we not anticipating load shedding, everything is under control we will inform the public if there is any change".

(READ MORE:Eskom in search of 'a light-bulb moment')

Although there has been an inconvenience in recent past years due to electricity load shedding there is room for improvement for the future.