Energy expert Chris Yelland said South Africa experienced the worst load-shedding on record in 2020 and that he expects 2021 to be even worse.
Speaking to Biznews, Yelland said the reality is that Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF), which is a measure of the availability of Eskom current fleet of power stations, is declining year on year.
“The best thing that I think one can hope for is that Eskom could stabilise this energy availability factor at the current low levels,” said Yelland.
South Africa has already experienced seven days of load-shedding within the first three weeks of the year when demand was low.
As demand for electricity picks up, Eskom’s ageing power generation fleet will be under severe pressure.
The biggest problem is breakdowns. During the most recent bout of load-shedding, 14,748MW of capacity was unavailable due to unplanned maintenance, breakdowns, and outage delays.
The lost capacity because of breakdowns dwarfed the 5,358MW which was unavailable because of planned maintenance.
The fact that most of the lost capacity is caused by unpredictable events makes it nearly impossible for Eskom to accurately forecast load-shedding.
A good example is Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s comments in May 2020 that their outlook for the winter season shows little to no load-shedding expected after the lockdown.
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