Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, faces persistent challenges in its efforts to meet electricity demand in the coming years. The annual Medium-Term System Adequacy Outlook (MTSAO) report from Eskom’s system operator outlines the potential scenarios for the next five years, indicating that load shedding may remain a prevalent issue.
Eskom Expects High Levels of Load Shedding to Persist for the Next Five Years
Ongoing Plant Performance Deterioration
- Eskom’s generation capacity is under duress, and deteriorating plant performance remains a concern.
- Load shedding is projected to persist at high levels for the next five years, particularly due to low plant availability.
Load Shedding Projections
- Load shedding is anticipated to continue at relatively high levels, albeit slightly reduced over the next two years compared to 2023’s record-breaking levels.
- A longer-term outlook suggests the situation may worsen, with continued reliance on diesel usage to supplement power generation.
Scenarios for Eskom’s Future
- Eskom’s system operator offers two scenarios: one with improved plant performance and another with ongoing challenges.
- Even in the improved scenario, there will be a manageable deficit in power generation, but diesel usage will remain high.
- The system operator is responsible for managing the power system, making decisions on load shedding levels and preventing total blackouts.
System Adequacy and Demands
- The annual System Adequacy Report helps stakeholders understand the energy outlook for the next five years.
- Inadequacy, defined as an inability to meet demands exceeding 20GWh per year and excessive use of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), remains a concern.
Factors Affecting Eskom’s Performance
- Eskom’s generation fleet’s average energy availability factor (EAF) has declined to just below 55%.
- Economic growth projections and increased demand are factored into Eskom’s future energy requirements.
- Decisions regarding the decommissioning schedule for old coal-fired power stations are yet to be finalized.
Scenarios for Addressing the Supply Deficit
- The system operator examined a scenario that includes no plant closures in the next five years and the addition of 19,000MW of generation capacity.
- Proposed solutions include completing uncommissioned units, developing new gas-to-power plants, and increasing embedded generation.
- Load shedding has resulted in 14,500GWh of unserved energy in 2023.
Recommendations for Eskom’s Future
- The report emphasizes the urgency of improving Eskom’s plant performance to tackle the supply deficit.
- The government’s generation capacity procurement program should be expedited, and Eskom’s network must be strengthened to facilitate new projects’ grid connection.
Eskom’s ongoing challenges with plant performance and supply deficits highlight the need for immediate action to secure a reliable power supply for South Africa in the coming years.