Since the beginning of the fall season in South Africa, Eskom has implemented the load-shedding festival due to the different incident that has been happening during the past few weeks, such as:
Since 2021 Eskom has been facing sabotage of its cables in different places within the country, the most recent occurred in Mpumalanga at the Hendrina station. Investigations have been conducted but with no concrete outcome; and these sabotages cause instability in Eskom to provide electricity.
Probably the primordial cause of the load-shedding in South Africa is the shortage of generation capacity, due to the different power stations not working and Eskom is unable to provide enough capacity.
Eskom provided an estimated value of 4,000 – 6,000 MW of additional capacity needed to properly maintain its power stations. Another 14,500 megawatts of capacity is currently unavailable due to the multiple breakdowns of the generation.
The quality of coal plays an important role in the generation of electricity in the different power stations. For quite a few years now, there is an ongoing issue with the quality of coal provided by several syndicates and other suppliers, such as “Exxaro and Seriti” which are the largest suppliers of coal to Eskom, by roughly providing 80% of coal/year to Eskom.
According to the expert Chris Yelland, suppliers are unable to keep up with the expected quality of coal requested due to the constant demand that keeps on increasing. The bad quality of coal, impacted the production as workers have to manually remove ash and other elements in the units stuck in the pipework, which cause delays and affects the different stations.
One of the biggest challenges that South Africa is facing is a lack of skills, and Eskom has also been impacted by the wave, as there are challenges with a lack of engineering and technical skills and experience in the industry. According to Pravin Gordhan, In order to solve the issue, Eskom has launched a training program to upgrade the skills and abilities of its workers.
With the demand that keeps on increasing, it’s now challenging to constantly supply enough electricity to the entire country. In order to match the demand, Eskom has no order choice but to reimplement the load-shedding period with different stages based on the current events and demand in the market. With the fall season that has started, we might face a long period in the dark as demand tends to increase. It’s not yet clear when the issues will be fixed and also when load-shedding will be definitely suspended, but according to the Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha, Eskom’s users can help the entity in reducing stages but reducing electricity usage, which can potentially help in suspending the load-shedding.