South Africa: Eskom Implements Stage 4 Load Shedding

10 December 2019

Due to continued shortage of capacity, Eskom is implementing Stage 4 rotational load shedding which is expected to continue until 11pm tonight.

"Eskom is implementing Stage 4 rotational load shedding until 11pm tonight as a result of shortage of capacity with a number of generating units still out of service due to breakdowns," it said on Tuesday morning.

Stage 4 rotational load shedding this morning follows on the utility having had implemented Stage 6 load shedding on Monday night after power supply to the incline conveyors feeding coal to the silos at Medupi power station failed. The Medupi power plant is located in Limpopo.

This resulted in coal-feeding issues resulting in a loss of a number of units while flooding at both Kriel mine and the power station located in Mpumalanga led to no coal deliveries via the conveyor belt.

The Camden power station experienced abnormally high rain at approximately 250mm over the past week leading to flooding impacting the boiler and turbine hall and other critical infrastructure that is connected to coal supply.

On Tuesday, the utility said while progress has been made with coal handling at Medupi Power Station, breakdowns were at 15 200MW as at 5:43am.

"The incessant rains continue to impact coal handling and operations at our power stations. The probability for load shedding remains high for the rest of the week," it said.

Meanwhile, Eskom's Emergency Response Command Centre continues to monitor the situation with the focus being on reducing unplanned breakdowns to below 9 500MW. This would enable Eskom to minimise and to stop load shedding in the following week.

During Stage 4, 4000MW is rotationally load shed nationally at a given period. Even during this stage, approximately 80% of the country's demand is still being met.

Eskom reminded customers that load shedding at Stage 4 is no cause for alarm as the system is being effectively controlled while also urging customers to reduce demand as a concerted collective effort can help to avoid or lessen the level of load shedding.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern at the ongoing power cuts.

Impact on the economy

"The ongoing load shedding is devastating for the country. It is causing our economy great harm and disrupting the lives of citizens. The extreme weather in several parts of the country over the last week has compounded the problems of an electricity grid that was already under great strain," said the President.

The President's comments follow on an update he received on developments at Eskom's power stations.

The President has been in constant communication with the Minister of Public Enterprises and the leadership of the electricity utility on the state of the national grid and on the work being done to address the current crisis.

The immediate priority, said President Ramaphosa, is to get as much generating capacity back on line within the shortest possible time.

"Eskom's emergency response command centre and technical teams are working around the clock to fix multiple breakdowns. The anger and frustration that this load shedding has caused is understandable. It is essential at this time that all stakeholders work together to restore adequate supply of electricity in the shortest time," said the President who also called on energy intensive users, to reduce consumption.

However the President stressed that South Africa's energy challenges cannot be resolved overnight.

"The energy challenges in this country will not be resolved overnight. We have set out on a bold path of restructuring and rebuilding. Despite the setbacks of the past week, we are making progress and will steadily begin to see the fruits of these efforts," said President Ramaphosa.

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