‘Eskom and load shedding, is there hope?’ – Hermann

Henry

Last Thursday, pres. During his state of the nation speech, Cyril Ramaphosa boasted about the progress with the energy crisis – and more specifically load shedding. However, Phase 5 load shedding was introduced hours after.

Dr. Dirk Hermann, chief executive of Solidarity, says South Africans must ask themselves what exactly happened.

“Thursday night, shortly after the president’s speech, an Eskom unit was taken out of service. It is the blind sambok that Pres. shocked Ramaphosa – reality caught up with him.”

Hermann says this is what happens when there is a mismatch between politicians’ dreams and promises and the actual practice.

“The rest of Thursday was a nightmare, a total of five units were taken out of service and by peak time on Friday evening all the dams were almost empty.

“Phase 6 load shedding had to be introduced over the weekend – something almost unprecedented – to restore dam capacity for the week ahead.

“This is all a confirmation of how extremely fragile our system is,” he says.

Hermann then raises the question of whether it was sabotage.

“The ANC screams sabotage, and they claim that this is the problem at Eskom and is specifically the cause of our current load shedding flags.”

However, Hermann believes that the only sabotage that does take place is the unnecessary interference of the politicians in Eskom.

“In the current wave of load shedding, there is no question of sabotage, the reality is that we are paying the price of years when preventive maintenance was not done.

“Advocating sabotage now is nothing but political opportunism.”

Dr. Energy Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa continues to argue that there is nothing to worry about and that the current wave of load shedding is due to maintenance.

“However, this is not the case, the current wave of load shedding was not caused by maintenance, but due to years of inadequate preventive maintenance.

“The scary picture of Eskom is that on the coal side, only three out of eighty units are on load – that is, they are producing what they have to produce.

“This makes the system extremely fragile and insecure.”

Hermann says 2024 will be another year of load shedding. “The system is just too fragile and a small disruption can lead to a big disruption”.

“Is there hope?” he then asks.

“The energy mix in SA urgently needs to be changed. The government’s focus must shift to establishing the technical and statutory framework that enables the private sector and the community to generate power on a large scale and get it on the system.

“At this stage there is about 5,300 MW on people’s roofs. This is more than the Kusile power station can generate and it is more than the energy demand of the entire Western Cape.”

Hermann says at least another 5,000 MW has been registered for possible generation.

“There is still a lot of energy in South Africa that can be generated. One can actually describe the energy that is coming in as astounding.”

He says the energy distribution could look very different over the next five years as municipalities and the private sector generate power themselves.

“Whether there will ever be a stable national network again remains an open question, but that there will be areas of stable power is very likely.”