This has forced Eskom to escalate its rotational power cuts. By mid-January 2023, users were typically without electricity for 8 to 10 hours a day.
The situation is unlikely to improve much in the short to medium term.
It’s expected that this year, especially as power demand increases in winter, the country’s electricity supply will decline to the point where power may sometimes be available for only 12 hours a day.
Nor is the situation expected to improve in the medium to long term. The national electricity utility is in a precarious financial situation.
The result is that South Africans are increasingly being forced to explore alternative sources of electricity.
From big companies down to small households, entities are even considering whether it is possible to disconnect from the Eskom grid entirely and produce all their electricity in-house.
But since then electricity tariffs have skyrocketed at an average of four times the inflation rate.
Factories, mines, farms, businesses and individuals are now choosing to reduce their dependence on Eskom’s network by supplementing their electricity with in-house power generation.
While this lowers demand on the Eskom power supply, the level at which this has been happening so far is insufficient to substantially reduce power cuts.
The construction of larger private solar plants, already initiated by some bigger entities, as well as the growing interest in rooftop solar in residential areas, will gradually be felt. But this too will not stop power cuts completely.
Some entities may go as far as cutting themselves off from Eskom entirely. How feasible is this?