News Research

Municipalities were Eskom’s biggest customers during 2019

Keenly aware of the electricity challenges that South Africa is facing, StatsSA has released five key facts from its latest report, The Electricity, Gas, and Water Supply Industry Report for 2019 which covers data on our energy mix, electricity production, and employment:

  1. South Africa is generating less electricity

One result worth highlighting from the report is that the industry produced less electricity in 2019 than it did in 2010, recording a 2% decline.

This is confirmed by the monthly ‘electricity generated and available for distribution’ release which provides a more comprehensive time series, highlighting how national electricity production has slowed since 2018 with South Africa producing less electricity in 2020 than it did in 2004.

The latest figures from this release for July 2021, shows that South Africa generated 144 039 GWh of electricity in the first seven months of 2021 – 5% more than what was generated in the first seven months of 2020 but 3% less when compared to the same period in 2019.

2. The industry employs fewer people than it did in 2016

According to the 2019 report, the industry recorded a net loss of 2 000 employees in 2019 compared with 2016. This decline occurred in electricity generation that saw its workforce shrink by just over 3 000 employees. Water and gas supply both recorded a rise in the number of employees over the same period.

Electricity, gas, and water supply is one of the two industries that recorded a decline in the number of jobs during this period. The other industry was construction, according to StatsSA’s Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) survey.

3. South Africa’s energy mix is slowly shifting away from coal

Eskom recently announced an investment plan to transition away from coal and towards wind and solar power. Coal continues to dominate South Africa’s energy mix, but in recent years it has given some ground away to other energy sources.

Renewables (water, wind, and sun) contributed 0.4% to the volume of electricity generated in 2013, rising to almost 5% in 2019.

Coal’s contribution edged lower over the same period from 88.3% to 87.2%. In 2006, coal’s contribution was 92.8% in 2006.

Something to note about the energy mix data from the 2016 survey is that there weas an extensive use of diesel, highlighting the extent to which South Africa was relying on open cycle gas turbines at the time. South Africa has used the equivalent of 238 Olympic-size pools of diesel in 2013, increasing to 534 Olympic-size pools in 2016. This decreased to 212 Olympic-sized pools in 2019.

4. Municipalities are the biggest customers

Redistributors of electricity were the biggest customers of electricity in 2019. Redistributors are enterprises that buy electricity from producers and then resell that power to their own customers such as homes, businesses, and other institutions.

5. The industry recorded a financial loss in 2019

The profit margin for the electricity, gas, and water supply industry was -3.9% in 2019, the lowest recorded in four of the survey years. The electricity generation sector recorded a loss of R21 billion that year, mainly due to a significant rise in depreciation and amortization, as well as increased spending on interest. The gas supply sector recorded the highest profit margin in 2019 (21.3%).