Reduced Load Shedding Shows That Collective Efforts At Eskom Are Working

His Excellency President Ramaphosa penned a letter to the nation on 16 May which focused on the stabilisation in the availability of electricity and reduction in load shedding across the country. “As of today, the country will have had no load shedding for over a month and a half. This welcome development shows that the Energy Action Plan we announced in 2022 is working. It is too early to say that load shedding has been brought to an end. However, the sustained improvement in the performance of Eskom’s power stations – as well as the new generation capacity we have added to our energy system –gives us hope that the end of load shedding is in sight,” – H.E Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa also highlighted the renewed focus by Eskom on maintenance and the return to service of several units. Losses due to unplanned outages were reduced by 9% between April 2023 and March 2024, adding the equivalent of 4 400 MW of capacity to the national grid. Improved maintenance has resulted in more reliable output from power stations – otherwise known as the country’s Energy Availability Factor (EAF). The EAF has been above 60% since April, compared to 53% over the same period last year.

Not only is the system benefitting from improved maintenance, but the dedication of law enforcement agencies, together with the National Prosecuting Authority, has resulted in great strides being made in rooting out corruption at Eskom. “The leadership, management and staff of Eskom, particularly the power station general managers and their teams, are to be commended for their efforts.

The work of the National Energy Crisis Committee, which coordinates the response across government, has also been vital. The strong partnership with business and the support of other social partners has enabled the deployment of valuable resources and expertise. The stabilisation in the availability of electricity and reduction in breakdowns signal a real trend in improved plant performance. “Yet, against all the available evidence, some people have claimed that the reduced load shedding is a political ploy ahead of the elections. Some have speculated that there is less load shedding because Eskom is using the diesel-fuelled peaking plants to ‘keep the lights on’ in the run up to the elections.

“This is not borne out by the facts. Eskom is actually using these peaking plants at a much lower rate than the last two years. For example, last month Eskom spent more than half as much on diesel as it did in April 2023,” – H.E. Ramaphosa. Another key factor driving the reduction in load shedding is the addition of new generation capacity, mostly from renewable energy sources, with a pipeline of more than 130 private energy projects, representing over 22 500 MW of new capacity, some of which are already starting to connect to the grid.

“As a result of the tax incentives and financing options we introduced for businesses and households, by November last year the capacity of rooftop solar had reached over 5,000MW, more than doubling in just twelve months. This has helped to alleviate pressure on the national grid. More bid windows have been released for new capacity from solar, wind, gas and battery storage, with more than 10,000 MW currently in procurement through public programmes,” –President Ramaphosa.

His Excellency emphasised that the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, which we tabled in Parliament last year, will encourage investment and bring down electricity prices and that the transmission network to accommodate renewable energy is expanding in provinces like Northern Cape – with a plan to build over 14 000 km of new transmission lines across the country.

“Just as we note this progress, we must be clear that we are not out of the woods yet. The risk of load shedding remains. We must therefore all continue to play our part by using electricity sparingly and paying for the electricity that we use. What we can say for sure is that our plan is working. We are determined to stay the course and to continue this work until the energy crisis is brought to an end once and for all,” – H.E. Ramaphosa.

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