Stage 16 load-shedding nothing to worry about — Ramokgopa on ending power cuts

Energy minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa highlights achievements but says Eskom's 'not there' yet in terms of ending load-shedding

09 April 2024 - 14:18
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Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says there is no need to worry about the stage 16 load-shedding protocols but admits Eskom is “not there” yet to end power cuts. 

Ramokgopa was briefing media in Tshwane on Tuesday to provide an update on implementation of the energy action plan. He reflected on the improvement in Eskom's generation capacity over the past few weeks and 13 days of no load-shedding so far.

While the National Energy Regulator of South Africa approved the new stage 16 load-shedding guidelines, Ramokgopa said there was nothing to worry about.

“The body that does that planning for the various stages is an independent body that helps to ensure that from the systems operator point of view there is a degree of predictability if you were to go to those levels of load-shedding. It doesn’t suggest we are going to go to stage 16 load-shedding.

“It's an insurance measure. It has no correlations with where we are at but simply to say going into the future, if we have this situation, this is how the system operator should manage the grid. We welcome that,” he said. 

“We'll come back and share with you what's coming on stream from the private sector and I'll say, if all of these promises materialise, then it means that by this period we should've achieved, if you like, some degree of energy security. I'm not at that point, the last thing I'll do is to mislead the country. We're not there, when we're there I'll tell you that this is the day [we end load-shedding].”

Ramokgopa gave an update on interventions in the past 18 months which he mostly attributed to the work of Eskom's board and management.

These include improvement of plant conditions which allowed the utility to ramp up planned maintenance over the summer, the accelerated sourcing of spares, planned repowering of stations due for shutdown, a culture of accountability and consequence management and addressing issues of inadequate capacity.

On the last, Ramokgopa said: “Here we're accepting Eskom is not the silver bullet. So our problems with regards to load-shedding will not be solved by Eskom alone. It's a major player at least in the short-term but you need additional generation capacity and that's why [there is] the need to expedite engagements with independent power producers.”

Regarding the board led by Mteto Nyati, he said: “The tremendous amount of skills and aggregation of experience and technical expertise that resides in the board has made this possible.

“It's important that we are able to foreground that that essentially is an aggregation [or] constellation of the efforts, chiefly led by the board and at an implementation level, the officers.”

Ramokgopa provided a forecast for the next few months, saying Medupi's unit 4 is to return online “much earlier than anticipated” as well as Koeberg unit 2, which was taken offline in December 2023, which is expected to return in September. These will return about 1,700MW.

“And Kusile, as you know it's still a construction site [as] there is one unit yet to be commissioned and synchronised. So we are confident that by September we'll be able to get that 800MW. So in the next five months we should be able to get [about] 2,583MW of generating capacity.”

Eskom senior manager in the generation office Eric Shunmagum spoke briefly on the winter outlook, saying the presentation was still undergoing a “process of approval”. The aim was to have planned maintenance “hovering around 3,000MW and get breakdowns to below 14,000MW”.


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