JOHANNESBURG – South Africa power utility ESKOM announced that it will suspend load shedding from Friday, March 19 after some of its generation units returned to service.

The announcement comes as the country heads for a long weekend, considering that 22 March is a public holiday in South Africa, but the question is, for how long will this suspension last? 

According to an official statement, the decision to suspend load shedding came after the successful return to the generation of each unit at the Duvha, Medupi, Kendal, Kriel and Kusile Power stations.

The statement further said that “Eskom continues to implement reliability maintenance during this period, and as such the system will continue to be constrained, with the possibility of load shedding remaining elevated”, the statement further said.

According to Kate Wilson, a senior researcher at Africa Check, in 2018 ESKOM exported electricity to seven countries in Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Lesotho, eSwatini, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. With SADC’s unending energy woes, ESKOM’s recurrent power breakdowns will weigh down on the electricity provision capacities of these ESKOM dependent SADC power importers.

South Africa’s total domestic electricity generation capacity from all sources currently stands at 58,095 megawatts, with coal constituting 80% of their energy mix. The country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) seeks to integrate renewable energy power producers into its energy mix to stabilize supplies. In June 2018, the country’s Renewable Power Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) for utility-scale transactions signed 27 power purchase agreements with independent producers. Currently, solar energy makes up 4% of South Africa’s energy mix.