Eskom has issued a load shedding warning for South Africa, urging the public to reduce electricity usage because the “generation system is severely constrained.”
In a statement on Monday afternoon (11 April), the state-owned power utility said four generating units have suffered breakdowns while two others have not returned to service as planned.
Load shedding on the cards
“This together with the inclement weather, which has increased the demand for electricity, has placed the power system under pressure. Eskom is working hard to return as many of these generation units to service as possible,” the utility said.
“Today, a generating unit each at Matla and Kriel power stations as well as two generating units at Camden Power Station experienced breakdowns. Furthermore, a generating unit each at Tutuka and Matla power stations have been delayed from returning to service, contributing to the current shortage of capacity.”
A total of 4,984MW of capacity is unavailable because of planned maintenance, while a further 15,514MW is out because of unplanned breakdowns.
“We urge the public to continue reducing electricity usage to help avoid the possibility of load shedding. However, should the situation deteriorate further, load shedding may need to be implemented at short notice, as a last resort, in order to protect the national grid,” Eskom warned.
Constrained supply ‘throughout the week’
The utility, which supplies around 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity, said it is currently relying on “adequate levels of emergency reserves” to meet the demand.
“This constrained supply situation may persist throughout the week. We will communicate should there be any significant changes to the supply situation,” it said.
Earlier on Monday, Eskom issued another warning to Gauteng residents to avoid illegal connections and vandalism of its electricity infrastructure. These, it added, often cause an overload on its networks, leading to prolonged outages.
Over the weekend, increased demand caused by cold and wet weather led to widespread outages across several parts of Johannesburg. In a statement, City Power said it had received more than 2,000 calls from residents reporting on these outages.
Eskom has repeatedly stated that it needs about 4,000 to 6,000MW of additional capacity to avoid load shedding. The two new power stations, Medupi and Kusile, have not significantly augmented the available capacity.
Renewable energy projects commissioned under several bid windows have also faced delays in bringing additional capacity on stream.