Eskom interim CEO warns of difficult and dark times ahead

South Africans are in it for a dark cold winter as loadshedding could be rolled out at stage eight if the group cannot contain unplanned power generation losses.

Speaking at the state of the system briefing on Thursday Calib Cassim, Eskom interim group CEO, said the looming winter months, which have already started to set in, are going to be a very difficult time for the country, warning that South Africans should anticipate a struggle.

He said the power utility and the system operator have worked hard to develop a loadshedding mitigation plan, with a particular focus on the energy availability factor (EAF) of power stations.

In order to achieve this, Cassim said the power utility needs to keep unplanned load losses below 15 000MW. “If the losses exceed 18 000MW, the risk of stage-eight loadshedding is extremely high this winter,” he said.

Eskom chairperson Mpho Makwana noted that the pressure from the winter months is exacerbated by shifting weather patterns, with a recent wet weather in Johannesburg showing a dramatic change to typical conditions.

“The power system will be even more constrained, and weather forecasters are predicting a harsh winter,” said Makwana.

According to Makwana, the group’s intention is to push forward with demand-side management, which should assist with curbing energy demand during winter.

He added that most of the loadshedding relief can only be expected once winter has passed, noting that this will be a first winter without 960MW from Koeberg Unit 1, which will only be back on the grid by September.

Makwana further said units at Kusile power station will only be back online by November, adding that he expects the overall EAF to be at 65% by the end of the financial year in March 2024.

Currently, Eskom is rolling loadshedding between stages four and six.

The briefing comes just days after EFF leader Julius Malema told the media that the country is headed for a grid collapse, which will plunge South Africa in darkness for days or weeks.

“Within the next two weeks, there will be darkness. South Africa is close to grid collapse,” Malema said on Monday at the party’s headquarters in Gandhi Square, Johannesburg.

He called for Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko to be brought back to the fold to fix the crisis at Eskom.

According to Malema, Molefe and Koko, the former chief executives at state-owned entities Transnet and Eskom, respectively, will be able to save the country from the unfolding energy crisis.

Malema also called for the removal of recently appointed Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa, saying he is corrupt and will not improve the performance of Eskom.


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