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South Africa 08 December 2023

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 are affecting power supply in SA.
  • The EAF remained unchanged at 56,1% 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 recent increase in the EAF can be attributed partly to fewer unplanned and planned 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) is at 31.42% in Q4:23, compared to an average of 33.42% in Q3:23. It reached a peak of 38.6% earlier in Q2:23. The planned outage factor (planned maintenance) is around 12.3%, down from a peak of close to 18% at the beginning of Q2:23.
  • The decrease in the level of loadshedding by several stages from May through to December came on the back of a combination of factors, including an increase in the imports of lithium-ion batteries and solar panels since the start of the year, which supports our view that private-sector electricity storage and self-generation capacity is growing rapidly.
  • Lower levels of unplanned and planned outages have also contributed to a decline in the level of loadshedding against earlier expectations. There were, however, periods of higher stages of loadshedding (above Stage 5) that were implemented in the latter half of November. This came on the back of increasing demand together with insufficient generating capacity and the need to manage emergency reserves. Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa noted that it did not mean that SA is “close to a system collapse”. He noted that Kusile Unit 2 and Unit 5 are expected to return to working condition soon. He commented that December usually sees most major industries closing resulting in lower demand; there will thus be days where there is no loadshedding.
  • Eskom also noted recently that there will be “consistent” loadshedding in December and January. Daily loadshedding between Stages 1 and 3 can be expected; however, a worst-case scenario involves loadshedding between Stages 4 and 6 every day.
  • SA has experienced a total of 6,820 hours (as of 6 December) of loadshedding thus far in 2023. This translates into 284 full days of loadshedding this year. There were 157 days of loadshedding in 2022.
  • SA has experienced cumulative loadshedding of 15,950 GWh thus far in 2023, compared to 6,339 GWh in the same period in 2022. However, several Eskom units have already returned to the grid and has reduced the average level of loadshedding by up to 2 stages. We expect economic growth at 0.6% in 2023, supported by the return to the grid of several Eskom generating units and increased self-generation.

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