South Africa on track for worst year of load shedding ever

South Africa is headed for a record year of power cuts if the rate of station breakdowns fails to improve, particularly at coal-fuelled plants.

State-owned Eskom said it will again ration electricity on Tuesday after various generation units were shut for repairs or didn’t return to service as expected. That means nationwide cuts will have occurred on seven of the 10 days in May so far.

The country was already on track to exceed the annual record for energy shed from load shedding. There were 1 054GWh cut to end-April versus 2 521GWh in the entire year earlier, itself a record, according to a report by the CSIR.

The crisis surrounding Eskom, which generates almost all the nation’s electricity including 80% from burning coal, causes disruption to both daily life in South Africa and economic activity. The ongoing outages have increased pressure on CEO André de Ruyter, while government programmes to build new generation have faced various delays.

Beyond the operational issues, the utility has a massive debt pile and the distraction of an ongoing reorganisation. Phillip Dukashe, Eskom’s group executive for generation, quit on Monday after 26 years at the company. Eskom and the government are also working on plans to utilise US$8.5-billion of funding pledged at the Cop26 climate summit with the aim of moving South Africa away from coal.  — (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP