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South Africa 15 February 2024

Electricity Tracker

Shireen Darmalingam

  • This monthly report tracks power utility Eskom’s ability to supply power to the grid, the demand for electricity, and the consumption of electricity in order to gauge the likely impact on economic activity. It reviews Eskom’s Energy Availability Factor (EAF) as well as how unplanned outages affect power supply in SA.
  • The EAF was at 54.8% in Q4:23, which should support an ongoing recovery in economic activity. Still, this remains below the average of around 59% in 2022, which was already down from 62% in 2021 and 65% in 2020. It also remains well below the utility’s near-term target of 65% (and longer-term target of 75%).
  • The EAF improved steadily during 2023, from below 50% at the beginning of that year to a high of just over 60%. This can be attributed partly to fewer unplanned and planned outages. The unplanned outage factor (ratio of energy losses over a given time to the maximum amount of energy which could be produced over the same time) was 31.42% in Q4:23, compared to an average of 33.42% in Q3:23. It had peaked at 38.6% in Q2:23. The planned outage factor (planned maintenance) is around 17.5% thus far in Q1:24, marginally down from a peak of close to 18% at the beginning of Q2:23. The EAF ended below 50% at the end of 2023 but has since improved to an average of 51.4% so far this year.
  • The decrease in the level of loadshedding by several stages in H2:23 came on the back of a combination of factors, including an increase in the imports of lithium-ion batteries and solar panels last year, which supports our view that private-sector electricity storage and self-generation capacity are growing rapidly, as well as lower demand over the festive period. Lower levels of unplanned and planned outages have also contributed to a decline in the level of loadshedding against earlier expectations. Eskom has, however, noted that it would continue with planned maintenance projects over this summer.
  • Higher stages of loadshedding were implemented over the past weekend. Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa noted that these higher stages of loadshedding would ease when the nine generating units (which went offline due to boiler tube leaks) are brought back online. Lower stages of loadshedding have already been implemented as these generating units slowly started supplying power to the grid again. The minister noted that, while loadshedding would continue this year, it should not exceed Stage 4.
  • SA has experienced a total of 911 hours loadshedding thus far in 2024, translating into 38 full days of loadshedding this year. There were 289 days of loadshedding in 2023.
  • SA experienced cumulative loadshedding of 16,823 GWh in 2023, compared to 8,293 GWh in 2022. However, several Eskom units have already returned to the grid and will continue to alleviate pressure on the grid this year. We expect economic growth at 0.6% in 2023 and to pick up to 1.2% in 2024, supported by the return to the grid of several Eskom generating units and increased self-generation. However, with the unreliable performance of Eskom’s existing fleet, risks to the growth outlook remain to the downside.

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