SA heads for longest load shedding stretch ever

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South Africa is heading for its longest stretch of power cuts yet after Eskom announced it will ration electricity from Friday afternoon until further notice.

Due to the breakdown of six generating units at five power stations, the need to conserve emergency generation reserves and a delay in returning to service numerous generating units, Eskom will implement so-called stage 2 load shedding, removing 2 000 megawatts from the national grid, the utility said in a statement sent via WhatsApp. 

That will make Saturday the 34th straight day of electricity rationing. The previous longest stretch was 33 days between September and October, according to Bloomberg calculations. Eskom has implemented power cuts on 176 days if 2022 as it tries to balance demand and supply that’s hampered by aging power plants that continuously break down.

The situation may worsen in the next year. 

Outages for planned maintenance and a project to extend the life of unit 1 of the Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town, as well as the collapse of a chimney at the coal-fired Kusile station will further reduce available capacity and significantly increase power cuts over the next six to 12 months, Eskom said. 

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