Record losses and blackouts in South Africa

Rolling blackouts are so common in South Africa that the local term used to describe them (load-shedding) was South Africa’s 2022 Word of the Year.

Yesterday (Tuesday), South Africa’s state power utility (Eskom) published its annual performance report, and it’s quite the read. It says the company:

  • implemented power cuts on 280 days of the year 
  • suffered record losses ($1.27B) for the financial year, and
  • saw a “significant deterioration” in emissions performance.

What went wrong? Some of the factors include:

  • 🧰 Poor upkeep of the old coal plants that provide 70% of its power
  • 💸 Decades of mismanagement and corruption, and
  • 🔋 An inability or reluctance to diversify the country’s energy base.

Intrigue’s take: The government has pledged to split the ailing utility into three subsidiaries to make it more efficient, but the crux of the matter is South Africa needs more generation capacity – and that takes years to build.

Also worth noting: 

  • Six of South Africa’s 14 coal plants were scheduled (💾) to be decommissioned soon. There are now plans to extend their life.
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