Eskom has publicized yet another round of stage 4 load shedding blaming the aging power plants for the incessant breakdowns. Eskom spokesperson SikonathiMantshantsha informed SABC that the old power company has had to resort to diesel power and hydro-storage electricity to power the country. Simultaneously, it attempted to address the constant load-shedding issues.
The spokesperson added that to save diesel fuel reserves, the company had to resort to stage 4 load shedding on 9th June 2021 (Wednesday) for an entire afternoon. This was caused by the breakdown of over 15 power units.
No relief in sight
Mr. Mantshantsha assured that teams of engineers and technicians have been deployed to try and return the power units to operational capacity as soon as possible. Apart from the key points across the country, he stated that almost the entire country is reeling from power outages and load shedding. The level of damage caused by these frequent power blackouts to the country’s infrastructure, society, and economy at large cannot be estimated at this point.
The spokesperson commented, “There is no doubt that a lot of damage is being caused by load shedding, and Eskom would like to apologize to the South African public for the inconvenience. The reality is that load shedding is being implemented as a last resort to safeguard the integrity of the national grid.” He added that the company does not presently have a plan to implement stage 6 load shedding. The company is doing everything to reduce the need for stage 6 load shedding and bring it back to an acceptable level 2 load shedding soon, Mr. Mantshantsha added.
He informed that although the load shedding has been planned up until Sunday evening, consumers can expect power cuts to continue through the remaining winter season.
Load shedding’s economic effects
The country’s economists have sent warnings that a lack of reliable and cost-efficient power supply is bound to become one of the biggest risks to South Africa’s economic growth.
Nedbank has indicated that fixed investment will take significant time to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, which was further worsened by large-scale power scarcity, constant power outages, and slow implementation of structural reforms. It also warned that the problems being faced by Eskom could potentially hurt the country’s long-term growth plans if the frequent power outage problems are not addressed as soon as possible.
According to Nedbank, the government recently launched a fifth bid window for renewable energy projects. If the government acts quickly to implement this initiative, then the country can be assured of business growth with confidence and can expect stimulating investment spending in the medium term.
Although the specific results depend on the control of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is showing signs of growth, with almost 4.9% growth expected in 2021, as opposed to the predicted growth rate of 4.4% from an earlier estimate.
Last week, Eskom announced its plan to increase load shedding from stage 2 to stage 3 after three more power stations reported malfunctions. The company has urged users to cut back on electricity usage to ensure a swifter return to normal power supply.