South Africa’s power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. anticipates electricity shortages on a weekly basis for the next three months, raising the specter of regular power cuts through April.
Eskom’s “likely risk scenario” over the next three months shows a deficit of more than 2,001 megawatts to meet demand and reserves, according to its most recent system status report, starting in the week of Jan. 11.
Under a “planned risk level,” which assumes fewer unplanned outages, the utility still expects shortages 50% of the time and possibly not being able to meet demand for the remainder of the period.
Even with the economy buckling from the weight of measures to control the coronavirus pandemic that has reduced electricity consumption, the state-owned utility is failing to generate adequate supply.
It announced 2,000 megawatts of power cuts on Thursday for four straight days after losing units at Kusile, its newest power station. Outages have even spread to what’s regarded as its most reliable facility, the Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town.
Saddled with debt of R464 billion ($30.6 billion) Eskom is attempting to transform the business by splitting into generation, transmission and distribution units that would allow for more power from private producers.
The utility is also implementing a maintenance schedule to make overdue repairs on its fleet of aging coal-fired stations.
Eskom has said the risk of power cuts will be significantly reduced by September.