Tuks professor says the end to load shedding is 'unlikely'

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said. Picture: Facebook page.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said. Picture: Facebook page.

Published May 3, 2024


Cape Town - An end to load shedding remains unlikely, an energy expert has said, as Eskom’s Energy Availability Factor (EAF) may not provide uninterrupted electricity supply to last a year.

This comes after Electricty Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa on Wednesday said the tide has turned for South Africa and the energy crisis and the end of load shedding was now in sight. Professor David Walwyn of the UP Graduate School of Technology Management at the University of Pretoria, said while news of Eskom’s progress was encouraging, Ramokgopa was “spinning”.

“The Minister of Electricity has admirable optimism but he is also a master of spin. The attainment of an EAF of 65.5% for one day is very different to maintaining this level for at least a month or a year, which is what we need. It is encouraging to hear that Eskom is making progress,” Walwyn said.

“Improvements to the operation of Eskom’s coal fleet, together with reduced demand as a result of the installation of solar panels, will definitely decrease the probability of load shedding, but whether it signifies that the end of load shedding is within touching distance, is very unlikely.

“We just need a week of cloud cover across the country, no wind and a couple of unplanned outages to be back in trouble.” Ramokgopa said on social media that Eskom’s EAF of 65.5%, last attained in 2021, confirms the success of aggressive maintenance-led recovery strategy, despite its inherent risks.

“We have indeed turned the corner, the ending of load shedding is within touching distance,” he said.

“This milestone validates the viability of the Eskom fleet of generation units and signifies the most efficient path to ending load shedding,” Ramokgopa said.

Eskom board chairperson Mteto Nyati also praised the EAF percentage and added that the board has set higher targets in the coming year.

The board has set an EAF target of 70% for April 2025, Nyati said on X.

Ramokgopa added that the state had incentivised rooftop solar rollout, and this is on track to reach an installed capacity of 6000MW by the end of 2024.

He said that this is an indispensable part of the energy calculus for South Africa.

Meanwhile, last week, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) warned residents and business that they could expect around 200 days of load shedding in 2024. This was revealed in the Monetary Policy Review for April.

South Africans can expect to see a decrease in load shedding over the next three years, according to the SARB. The SARB projects load shedding to shave 0.6, 0.2 and 0.04 percentage points from growth in 2024, 2025 and 2026, respectively.

This is lower than the 0.8 and 0.4 percentage points for 2024 and 2025 respectively that was said by the bank back in October 2023. Eskom has forecast Stage 2 load shedding for winter.