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Things are looking very, very bad for load shedding in South Africa

The outlook for load shedding in South Africa is worse than ever, despite promises from the government to urgently deliver on its energy action plan and the appointment of a new minister of electricity. A graph published by the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) shows that the energy shed from the grid so far in 2023 is worse than ever before, even relative to the worst on record in 2022. The data shows that load shedding escalated dramatically in the middle of 2022 and has continued to increase in frequency and duration. What is particularly concerning is that record levels of load shedding occurred over the summer months, which are typically periods of relatively low demand. With the winter months approaching, Eskom and the government must address the energy generation crisis before demand ramps up, or higher stages of load shedding will be required to protect the grid from collapse. The data also suggests that South Africa is setting new records for ‘worsts’ after several occurred in 2022. Experts warn that stage 7 and 8 load shedding is expected in the middle of the year, and without significant intervention, the country could even move beyond stage 8 in 2023. Despite assurances from authorities, energy experts and analysts are not confident that load shedding will be managed over winter. Eskom’s System Operator has confirmed that it is working on expanding load shedding schedules beyond stage 8, although this does not necessarily mean the country will go there. Meanwhile, the national government has done little to address the energy crisis in the short term, and most of its plans will only see South Africa exit the crisis in 12 to 18 months, assuming no stumbling blocks along the way.

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