Eskom offices. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

ESKOM says it could be forced to introduce load shedding at short notice, due to capacity losses and the cold weather.

The embattled power utility said that its systems are severely constrained on Thursday (22 July) and it expects to come under further pressure in the evening as demand increases.

“Eskom would therefore like to appeal to the public to reduce the usage of electricity in order to help ease the pressure on the system between 16h00 and 21h00.

“Breakdowns currently total 12,984MW while planned maintenance is 2,924MW of capacity. Any further significant loss of capacity would force Eskom to implement load shedding in order to protect the integrity of the system.”

Data published by professional services firm PwC this week shows that load shedding will halve South Africa’s GDP growth this year and cost the country 275,000 in potential jobs.

The group said that South Africa experienced 859 hours of load-shedding in 2020, and is on track to see the same hours lost in 2021.

“According to PwC’s calculations, this cost the country an estimated R75 billion in lost GDP and an additional 450,000 in job losses. Put differently, last year’s 7% decline in real GDP could have been limited to around 4.7% were it not for Eskom power delivery failures.”

In recent months, PwC said that its baseline scenario included an assumption that the economy will face a similar volume of load shedding hours this year compared to 2020.

“This assumption still appears valid: electricity outages totalled 560 hours in H1 2021 which was close to the 576 hours recorded in the first half of last year.

“While a notable proportion of the recent power outages were experienced outside of business hours, the number of load-shedding hours in H1 2021 can be equated to the loss of 70 (eight-hour) working days.”

PwC estimates that load shedding will reduce real GDP growth by 2.3 percentage points in 2021. This could cost the country 275,000 in potential jobs.

“In other words, if South Africa did not experience, load shedding, real GDP growth could have been 4.6% under our baseline scenario, with up to 565,000 jobs recovered.”

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