/ 24 November 2023

Load-shedding is an unwelcomed event, says Ramokgopa

Kgosientsho Ramakgopa
Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramakgopa. (Theana Breugem/Foto24/Gallo Images)

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has apologised for implementing stage six load-shedding, which was announced on Friday morning.

Speaking during a media briefing on Friday afternoon, Ramokgopa said the implementation of stage six resulted from Eskom using its reserves intending to safeguard the grid. 

“Stage six load-shedding is an extraordinary event, it’s an unwelcome event, and it’s something that we should frown upon,” he said, because it significantly undermines the economy.  

As generation capacity declined, Eskom outages escalated from stage two on Tuesday to stage four. Eskom then declared the implementation of stage six from Friday until Monday.

Under stage six, a capacity reduction of up to 6 000 megawatts is necessary. 

Ramokgopa said Eskom has relied on its emergency reserves to manage load-shedding as unplanned outages increased. 

He added that the current level of unplanned outages was deemed to be within “normal” parameters. 

According to Eskom’s statement, the high level of power cuts is caused by low generating capacity and insufficient emergency reserves. The utility also said that it had lost five generating units in the past 24 hours.

“What explains this is the fact that we had overcommitted our reserves for purposes of protecting the grid. We continue to protect the reserves, so we are not going to engage them at a heightened intensity. As a result, we don’t have the benefit of that 6 000MW that we would ordinarily draw from our emergency reserves,” Ramokgopa said.

He said that there are 2 300MW of pumped storage and the open cycle gas turbines make up about 1 332MW, which has already been used and that led to more load-shedding.

Eskom group executive for generation Bheki Nxumalo said electricity demand had spiked since Thursday, and this was another reason for the shift to stage six.

“At 1 500 [megawatts] we should not be at stage six … but today the demand went up compared to yesterday, continuously above by 1 500 [megawatts], so that is really what caused us to [go to stage six],” he said.

Nxumalo said the heatwave gripping most of the country may be a reason for increased demand.

“In conjunction with units going down due to boiler leaks, this increase in demand has hit the utility hard,” he said.

On Sunday, Ramokgopa said South Africa had been grappling with frequent load-shedding caused by unplanned capacity loss. 

On Friday, Ramokgopa said the country would receive a buffer for electricity in two weeks time when more units return online.