Power utility Eskom has announced that stage 5 load shedding will continue until the weekend.
It said rolling blackouts will be on the stage 5 schedule until 05h00 on Saturday morning, with further updates expected on Friday (23 September).
The group previously anticipated that load shedding would ease on Thursday; however, continued shortages have prevented this.
Earlier on Thursday, Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said that power cuts should ease over the coming days, and the nation’s electricity supply will continue to improve over the medium term as new investments bolster generation.
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Speaking to Bloomberg, the minister said that “we will have load shedding for a while in South Africa, (but) not of the order that we’ve seen in the recent past”.
Load shedding escalated to stage 6 last Sunday as Eskom struggled to keep generating units going.
Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises have agreed to the urgent procurement of energy on the open market from independent power producers (IPPs) to address energy shortfalls.
This will be able to get 1,000MW – but this is not immediately available as IPPs will need to ensure their generation capacity is appropriate.
In addition, Eskom is talking to municipalities to clamp down on faults in infrastructure and issues like street lights being on during the day. It is also talking to industry to see where further cuts can be made.
Wasted use, like the lighting of office buildings at night, can be addressed. At the same time, measures like the later start of ventilation and air conditioning in the mornings and an earlier end in the evenings can also help save electricity.
Gordhan said he expects a government initiative to buy more power from private producers of renewable energy to stabilise the energy supply over the longer term. He said there remains a “huge appetite” to invest despite delays to the program.
Other initiatives have been taken to improve Eskom’s performance, including rehiring experienced staff working there and increasing its maintenance budget.
The group recently published its load shedding outlook for the rest of the year, noting that it has to keep unplanned outages below 13,000MW to minimise rolling blackouts.
In a more load shedding-heavy scenario, if outages remain above 14,500MW, stage 2 load shedding will be frequent for the foreseeable future. If the power utility cannot keep outages under 16,000MW, load shedding at higher stages becomes the standard.
Read: Gordhan says load shedding set to ease