Loadshedding in the time of Coronavirus
South Africa was on track for a record year of loadshedding in mid-March
but the Coronavirus and subsequent lockdown has seemingly put an end to
that. We look at the loadshedding data from
January 2015 to March 2020.
With South Africa in lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the
Covid-19 virus, the one thing we can be thankful for is that we aren't
stuck at home without electricity. The loadshedding (rolling blackouts
for those not familiar with the term) that characterised the first few
months of 2020 have thankfully come to and end for the moment,
although less than a month ago, on March 15, the country had already
seen almost 24 days' worth of powercuts, the second highest annual
total for the past 6 years. And that after only two-and-a-half months
of the year.
The charts below are based on data collected by the
team since January 2015. The ESP team kindly shared a spreadsheet
which tracks the date and time of each loadshedding stage change, up
until March 15, 2020. The first chart below maps those loadshedding
periods to a timeline for each year.
2016 and 2017 had no loadshedding so they have been excluded from the
charts. 2015 is the standout year with 2,003, or almost 84 days' worth
There was no loadshedding in 2016 & 2017 so those years have been
In the chart below the height of each bar represents the stage (ie.
stage 1 - 6) and the width represents the duration of each stage.
The chart above represents the number of hours of loadshedding
implemented by Eskom over the different years and the various stages of
each period (see notes for details). The "hours" above were calculated
by adding up all the hours of each loadshedding stage during the year.
We then divided that by 24 to get an approximation of the "days". So 83
days in 2015 does not mean there were 83 days with some form of
loadshedding but that loadshedding was equivalent to 83 days if run
It's also important to understand that this doesn't mean that the entire
country was equally affected. Some areas were more heavily affected than
others. And not all areas in the country were without power for each of
these durations equally. But that there was some form of loadshedding
during these times.
For those unfamiliar with the idea of loadshedding it
is a system of rolling blackouts created by Eskom, the state power
supplier in South Africa. Loadshedding is implemented in
stages usually running from stage 1 to stage 4, though
in late 2019 stagees 5 and 6 were brought into play. Each of these
stages indicates a level of severity and typically the higher a stage
number the more frequently areas of the country will have their power
cut off. Power cuts are typically 4 - 4.5 hours long and in the higher
stages cuts may be implemented more than once a day.
These charts were produced using data provided by the EskomSePush team.
The calculations of hours/days etc are ours and so any errors are also