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South Africa 07 September 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 57% thus far 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 33.94% in the quarter to date, 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 below 12%, 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 9.1%; this compares with the planned outage factor of 10.4% over winter in 2022.
  • The decrease in the level of loadshedding by several stages from May through to August came on the back of 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 have also been periods of lower demand that has contributed to lower levels of loadshedding in August. Eskom noted that planned maintenance was likely to range from 1 300 – 3 000 MWs over winter 2023, lower than historical winter levels which has aided in alleviating pressure on the grid and reducing the stages of loadshedding. Loadshedding, however, has now been pushed to Stage 6 on the back of an increase in demand and planned maintenance. The breakdown of numerous generating units as well a delay in returning generating units (that have either broken down or undergoing maintenance) has resulted in the increased intensity of loadshedding thus far in September.
  • SA has experienced a total of 5,356 hours (as of 7 September) of loadshedding thus far in 2023. This translates into 223 full days of loadshedding this year. There were 157 days of loadshedding in 2022.
  • SA has experienced cumulative loadshedding of 12,995 GWh thus far in 2023, compared to 2,746 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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