There is a reason why loadshedding was the most searched term in South Africa for the past decade, especially as when it happens, everything seems to grind to a halt. So much so that it is costing the South African economy quite a bit, and the latest estimations from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) say loadshedding cost the country’s economy R59 billion.

That’s just the tentative estimation however, with it potentially costing the economy as much as R118 billion according to the CSIR.

The firm’s research shows that South Africa suffered roughly 530 hours of planned outages during the past year. This is far lower than the 852 hours of down time during 2015 when loadshedding was at its peak, but the CSIR explains that 2019’s numbers indicate a greater intensity of loadshedding activities by Eskom.

An example of this was South Africa heading into Stage 6 back in December last year, which came as a surprise for many a consumer in the country.

Another interesting finding (depending on how you look at it) is the declining energy availability factor (EAF) that Eskom has managed since 2001. This shows that the percentage of plants capable of producing power has gone from 90 percent in 2001 to 67 percent last year.

The authors of the report (PDF), principal engineer Jarrad Wright and senior engineer Joanne Calitz, also note that this declining EAF is potentially irreversible.

“An urgent response is necessary to ensure short-term adequacy and set South Africa on a path towards long-term adequacy in the 2020s,” the pair explained.

The CSIR ended its report by noting that loadshedding is expected to continue for the next two to three years depending on the decisions that government makes. That said, one shudders to think about what will happen if the wrong decisions are made.

Either way the latest report from the CSIR makes for grim reading.