SA power cuts to ease as Gordhan suggests long-term energy outlook ‘improving’

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's minister for public enterprises.

POWER cuts would ease in South Africa over the weekend and the long-term outlook for the country’s energy security was improving, said Bloomberg News citing an interview with Pravin Gordhan, minister of public enterprises.

“We will have load shedding for a while in South Africa,” Gordhan said today. But “not of the order that we’ve seen in the recent past.”

South Africa has had the worst load-shedding since 2019 this week following multiple failures of coal-fired power stations to which maintenance work at its Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town was also a factor. At one point, some 6,000MW of power was rationed, leaving people without power for 12 hours.

Gordhan told the newswire’s Bloomberg TV there was “massive investment” by the private sector as well as lenders to build the country’s renewable power capability while Government would also buy spare capacity from the private sector.

Earlier this week, Eskom outlined plans to buy up to 1,000MW of power from intensive energy users who could supply a megawatt of power or more. Three-year contracts would be signed, the first of which could be this week.

A bilateral power import programme would also be put in motion in which Eskom would source power from neighbouring countries. Several countries have expressed an interest in selling additional surplus power to South Africa,” said Eskom.

Eskom already imports an average of 200MW to augment its own supply in terms of the Southern African Power Pool.

Gordan told Bloomberg TV that Eskom’s management had “done the best they can”. He added: “I think we’ve got to keep under constant review whether the governance and the management capability is of the order which would help us to meet the current crisis.”

Eskom implements rolling blackouts when it fails to meet demand in order to keep the grid from a total collapse, which would potentially result in a prolonged outage, said Bloomberg News. Gordhan said there was “no risk whatsoever” of that happening.