Eskom crises: The lights keep going out in South Africa

Last Modified: Sun Feb 17 2019 09:29:58 GMT+0530 (India Standard Time)
  • 90%
    Percentage of South Africa's electricity production that is met by state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. Almost all of it is generated from coal, an abundant resource in the country.
  • 30,033 MW
    Peak demand for electricity in the country.
  • 27,305 MW
    Peak generation capacity of Eskom - well short of peak demand, leading to the latest round of rotational blackouts (aka load shedding). The current crisis is the result of a perfect storm in which rising costs, falling revenues, crumbling infrastructure, and decades of corruption and mismanagement each play a part.
  • 9,600 MW
    Planned generation capacity of two coal fired power plants - Medupi and Kusile - that were proposed in mid-2000's. Expected to be fully operational in 2015, they are still years away from completion, with their construction beset by spiralling costs, delays and corruption scandals.
  • $30 billion
    Eskom's debt, on which it can barely even afford the interest payments, and thus described by government officials as "technically insolvent" and in a "death spiral". 5 reasons for this situation are:
  • 1
    Kusile and Medupi plants are still years from completion, while their projected cost has doubled.
  • 2
    50% rise in cost of labour over the last 10 years. Price of coal has gone up too.
  • 3
    Non-payment by several large customers, especially poorer municipalities, leading to even more debt.
  • 4
    Wealthier customers and businesses have been turning towards renewable sources of energy, such as solar panels, whose cost has come down.
  • 5
    The utility has been forced to hike tariffs, which has contributed to a drop in sales.