Indefinite Stage 3 load-shedding confirms the failure of Ramaphosa’s Energy Action Plan

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré MP – DA Shadow Minister of Electricity
01 Feb 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP.

The announcement of indefinite stage 3 load-shedding by Eskom is definitive proof that the implementation of the Energy Action Plan by the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has dismally failed.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa launched his Energy Action Plan he announced that the priority was to improve Eskom’s operational performance through improving the reliability of the Eskom generation fleet. To achieve this, he appointed a new Ministry of Electricity to be headed by Ramokgopa.

However, since his appointment, Ramokgopa has failed to improve the performance of Eskom’s power generation fleet and has overseen the rapid decline of the Energy Availability Factor (EAF), which has averaged a dismal 51,2% since the beginning of 2024.

A grim picture has started to emerge, regardless of how hard Eskom runs its fleet or how many units are taken off for maintenance, that Eskom has become chronically incapable of generating sufficient power to meet demand. This means that if South Africa does not bring new sources of generation capacity online soon, South Africa is on course to become permanently mired in energy poverty.

The reality is that, if South Africans had not installed solar panels at the rate at which they did in 2023 – with 4 345MW of solar panels having been bought last year alone, the country would have been averaging stage 5 or 6 load-shedding in 2024. The drop in electricity demand during the daytime, due to the solar panel factor, has enabled Eskom to keep load shedding stages at relatively low levels.

It does not help that renewable energy, which offers the best prospect for South Africa to exit the load-shedding nightmare, continues to be under-represented in the country’s energy mix, as evidenced in Gwede Mantsahe’s flawed Integrated Resource Plan. Instead of taking a more proactive approach towards a renewable energy future, the draft IRP 2023 has taken South Africa several steps back and increased the risk of a perpetual energy crisis in the country.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ramakgopa and Mantashe recently issued a determination notice to procure new nuclear energy generation capacity of 2500MW. Not only is South Africa too broke to afford this, the country’s economy simply cannot afford to wait another 10 years to get new power on the grid (assuming the nuclear station build programme is kept on schedule and the construction budget is not looted).

The only solution for energy security in South Africa is to eliminate Eskom’s monopoly on energy supply through the unbundling of the power utility; to find creative solutions to bringing Independent Power Producers online while extending the grid to increase transmission; and to vote the Democratic Alliance into government in May.

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