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South Africa 06 October 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.
  • Encouragingly, the EAF improved to 56% in Q3:23 from an average of 54.7% in Q2:23, which should support an ongoing recovery in economic activity. Still, this remains below the average of around 58% 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 33.54% in Q3:23, compared to an average of 34.87% in Q2:23. It reached a peak of 38.6% earlier in Q2:23. The planned outage factor (planned maintenance) is around 13%, down from a peak of close to 18% at the beginning of Q2:23. The planned outage factor over winter 2023 (to date) is currently at an average of 10,3%; largely matching the planned outage factor of 10.7% over winter in 2022.
  • The decrease in the level of loadshedding by several stages from May through to September 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. Persistent improvement in unplanned outages cannot be taken for granted at this stage. However, Eskom acting CEO Caleb Cassim noted last week that Eskom aims for outages not exceeding Stage 4 during the SA summer. The recent improvement in the stages of loadshedding has been welcomed. Eskom has ascribed this to the return to service of Kusile’s unit 3, improved generation performance, and lower-than-anticipated demand for electricity. The utility reported that the construction of temporary stacks at Kusile is ahead of schedule and that unit 5 will be synchronised to the grid by December 2023. The utility further noted that it might be adding 2,400 MW of generating capacity to the country’s strained electricity grid before the end of this year.
  • SA has experienced a total of 5,850 hours (as of 6 October) of loadshedding thus far in 2023. This translates into 243 full days of loadshedding this year. There were 157 days of loadshedding in 2022.
  • SA has experienced cumulative loadshedding of 14,486 GWh thus far in 2023, compared to 3,939 GWh in the same period in 2022. However, several Eskom units are expected to return to the grid by end 2023, which may decrease the average level of loadshedding by up to 3 stages. We expect economic growth at 0.8% in 2023, supported by the return to the grid of several Eskom generating units and increased self-generation.

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