Widespread blackouts begin

There has been a severe technical failure at Eskom’s largest coal-fired power station, Majuba in Mpumalanga.

There has been a severe technical failure at Eskom’s largest coal-fired power station, Majuba in Mpumalanga. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has started rolling blackouts across the country due to a loss of capacity at one of its power stations in Mpumalanga.

There has been a severe technical failure at the Majuba Power Station, which is one of the utility's largest coal-fired power stations.

This week the parastatal declared two power supply emergencies.

The power utility says a crack in a coal storage silo yesterday afternoon caused the loss of 1,800 megawatts.

Spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says the blackouts are expected to last until 10pm.

"The matter is very serious and I don't recall ever seeing such a significant loss of capacity in one go."

Earlier, energy expert, Chris Yelland, said Eskom's latest announcement could take South Africa back to the 2008 crisis when widespread blackouts took place.

On Thursday the utility had to instruct customers to cut down 10 percent of their electricity usage to avoid widespread blackouts.

To read the full load shedding schedule, click here.