- 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 58,1% in Q4:23 thus far, from an average of 56,1% in Q3:23, 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 29.23% 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 10.5%, 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 November 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. Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa provided an update of government’s Energy Action Plan in October and noted that the recent boost in performance of Eskom’s grid can be attributed to many factors. The key factor was noted as the significant drop in demand which provided support to the grid. The minister further highlighted that the adoption of rooftop solar among residents has contributed significantly. Installed rooftop solar is now estimated at about 4,883MW, almost doubling from June 2022. Ramokgopa noted that both Eskom and the department will not show any signs of complacency going forward.
- SA has experienced a total of 6,211 hours (as of 8 November) of loadshedding thus far in 2023. This translates into 258 full days of loadshedding this year. There were 157 days of loadshedding in 2022.
- SA has experienced cumulative loadshedding of 14,953 GWh thus far in 2023, compared to 5,247 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 0.8% in 2023, supported by the return to the grid of several Eskom generating units and increased self-generation.