TAKE A LOOK | How SA's worst year of load shedding played out

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South Africans experienced 1 169 hours of load shedding during 2021.
South Africans experienced 1 169 hours of load shedding during 2021.
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  • South Africans experienced load shedding 13% of the time during 2021.
  • The year 2021 is the most "intensive" year of load shedding the country has experienced.
  • The performance of Eskom's fleet has been on a declining trend, analysis by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research shows.

South Africans suffered through the most "intensive" year of load shedding during 2021, having experienced the power outages 13% of the time, analysis by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) shows.

The CSIR on Tuesday released the statistics of utility-scale power generation in South Africa in 2021.

It showed that the intensity of load shedding in 2021 increased 40% from 2020.

Load shedding was 40% more intensive than in 2020.
Load shedding was 40% more intensive than in 2020.

Overall there were 1 169 hours of load shedding in 2021, mostly at Stage 2 - when 2 000MW of electricity is taken off the grid. 

Most of the load shedding was concentrated in October and November.

Load shedding was most concentrated in October and
Load shedding was most concentrated in October and November.

The load shedding coincides with Eskom's declining Energy Availability Factor (EAF), which measures the performance of power stations based on the power they feed to the grid. The EAF for 2021 was 61.8%, down from 65% in 2020 and 66.9% in 2019. The EAF had come down rapidly since 2018, when it was 71.9%. Eskom's target is 74%.

The weekly average EAF also hit a low in 2021 at 53.3%.

Eskom's EAF has been on a declining trend.
Eskom's EAF has been on a declining trend.

The CSIR noted that unplanned outages are increasing – a shift from 2017 when there were equal levels of unplanned outages and planned maintenance.

Increasing demand

In 2021, the system had to deal with increasing demand compared to the previous year. Peak system demand was at 35GW, compared to 34.1GW in 2021. However, demand levels were still lower than that recorded in 2019, the CSIR indicated.

Coal is still the dominant source of electricity, accounting for 81.4% of the 227 terawatt-hours fed to the system, followed by renewable energy sources – solar and wind – accounting for 6.7%. Including hydropower, renewables accounted for 11.9% of the energy mix. Nuclear power contributed 5.4%, and diesel contributed 1.4%.

Coal accounts for more than 80% of electricity pro
Coal accounts for more than 80% of electricity production.

The CSIR noted that all generation technologies – coal, nuclear, diesel, and renewables - generated more electricity than the previous year. "The most notable relative increase was local hydro with more than double the output," the CSIR highlighted.


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