South Africans will suffer from load shedding for at least another 12 to 18 months.
This was the dark and grim picture Eskom Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer painted at Thursday’s annual Agri-SA congress in Pretoria.
Load shedding to stay
Oberholzer said South Africa would not be able to end the deliberate power cuts until sufficient generating capacity is added to the electricity grid to meet demand.
“In terms of load shedding, I believe it’s here to stay for a period. Up until we have the additional capacity that we can fulfil the demand of the country, while at the same time we can give that respect to the plant and maintain it properly, we are going to sit with challenging situations.”
When will load shedding end?
Oberholzer was reluctant to specify a time when the rolling blackouts would end.
“I’m very reluctant to give a time because then people will hold me to it. But if you ask me, my gut feel. I would say another year, a year and a half to get out of this.”
But Oberholzer couldn’t guarantee that South Africa would not see higher stages of rolling blackouts.
Ramaphosa knew power cuts here to stay
Oberholzer’s sentiments are not surprising.
Earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa, warned in one of his weekly newsletters that rolling blackouts were here to stay, adding that while there is no quick fix for the deliberate power cuts, “real progress is being made”.
“Given the unpredictable performance of Eskom’s fleet of coal-fired power stations, we will not be able to eliminate load shedding in the short term. This is the unfortunate reality of our situation, which has had a long history,” Ramaphosa said.
Load shedding has worsened
Data from South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) showed that Eskom had cut 2 276GWh of electricity in the first six months of 2022, more than 90% of the 2 521GWh it shed for the entire 2021.
The load shedding tracker by Outlier also showed that January had been the only load shedding-free month in 2022.
It also showed that South Africa had suffered 125 days of rolling blackouts and counting (until October 14 2022) this year alone.