- 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 are affecting power supply in SA. Loadshedding continues despite the announcement of energy reforms to eventually end power outages.
- The EAF averaged around 58% in 2022, down from 62% in 2021 and 65% in 2020. It remains well below the utility’s near-term target of 65% (and longer-term target of 75%). The EAF dropped below 50% for the first time this year in the first week of January and again in May. The EAF averaged 52.8% and 52.9% in Q1:23 and Q2:23 respectively. A QTD high of 56.3% was reached in the last week of May.
- The increase in the EAF can be attributed partly to decreased unplanned outages. The unplanned outage factor (ratio of energy losses over a given time period to the maximum amount of energy which could be produced over the same time period) fell to an average of 35.8% in the last two weeks, from a peak of 38.3% the week before. The planned outage factor (planned maintenance) is currently close to 10%, down from a peak of close to 18% at the beginning of Q2:23.
- SA has experienced a total of 3,601 hours (as of 5 June) of loadshedding thus far in 2023. This translates into 150 full days of loadshedding and is 168 hours (7 days) short of the total loadshedding in 2022.
- SA has experienced cumulative loadshedding of 7,280 GWh thus far in 2023. The SARB has lowered its GDP growth forecast to 0.3% this year as loadshedding continues to weigh heavily on the economic outlook.
- Eskom recently warned that SA faces a “difficult winter”, with 3,000MW less capacity than last year. Eskom noted a worst-case scenario of having to occasionally cut 8,000 MW from the grid (Stage 8 loadshedding) as a possibility. The utility also indicated that it would keep planned maintenance to a minimum and increase diesel burn at open cycle gas turbines to help keep the lights on this winter.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa commented last week that, while the electricity crisis appears unrelenting, government is making progress in resolving it. Government has acknowledged that SA faces difficult months ahead. Government is, however, more confident that the measures in place, including new investment in electricity generation capacity, “will enable us to end loadshedding and achieve energy security”. President Ramaphosa noted that the Presidency is driving collaboration between different government departments, SOEs and public entities through programmes such as Operation Vulindlela (OV). Encouragingly, the OV Embedded Generation Task Team is tracking pipeline projects of 10,000MW of new generation capacity and R200bn of private sector investment.