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POWER CRISIS

Load shedding should decline for summer — latest Eskom prediction

Load shedding should decline for summer — latest Eskom prediction
Illustratiave image | Sources: Eskom's coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga, South Africa, on 5 May 2023. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Flickr | Adobe Stock

Eskom presented a more positive outlook for South Africa’s power supply going into summer, with the confident claim that although it has not been able to meet its targeted reduction in unplanned load losses, there is a declining trend.

At a media briefing this week, the power utility said it expected to onboard an additional 2,880MW from Kusile unit 4 during the summer months, another 1,500MW from Tutuka in January and would be focusing on six key areas to reduce demand by almost 250MW, which in turn, should reduce the incidences of rolling blackouts.

The six initiatives to reduce demand include:

  • 60MW from “load clipping”
  • 30MW from residential load management
  • 50MW from energy efficiency programmes
  • 50MW from demand response
  • 60MW from residential mass rollout

In terms of progress to date, Eskom is currently finalising a system operator for its incentivised demand management programme launched in 2023. Interventions include incentives of R3 per MW and 41 cents per kWh for participants.

Eskom has also started rolling out awareness programmes at school level, with “energy ambassadors” to drive behavioural change by encouraging a culture of saving on energy use. 

Eskom’s head of generation, Bheki Nxumalo points out that when Eskom presented its winter outlook earlier this year, there were “horror stories about Stage 8 load shedding” that didn’t materialise, and he credits the initiatives to reduce demand for contributing to that.

The smart meter effect

On the residential side, Eskom is rolling out a fleet of smart meters, with a pilot project in Fourways. The meters enable energy limiting during constrained periods, where consumers receive messages to reduce their consumption in order to avoid load shedding. The pilot project was able to reduce load usage from 60Amps to 10Amps. 

“With 10Amps, you can still use your television, your internet router and some of your lights. More importantly, at that level, we can keep the street and traffic lights functional,” says Nxumalo.

The use of smart meters in residential and business spaces will allow users to have a better understanding of their power usage so they can reduce their demand more effectively. Roger Hislop, energy management systems executive at CBI Energy, says he had a client that was spending upwards of R120,000 every month on electricity but did not know what was contributing to this. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: How to reduce your electricity usage by at least 30% without sacrifice

“While they were aware that approximately R30,000 was going to NMD [notified maximum demand] penalties, which is money straight down the drain, they could only guess at the R90,000 going towards consumption. At the same time, they were spending hours trying to manually compare consumption data against their utility bill,” he says. Hislop says managed smart metering at several key points in an electrical network is a good way for businesses to tackle spiralling electricity usage and curb costs.

How feasible smart meters will be for residential use remains to be seen, with installation costs of approximately R3,000 per household and a national cost of R16-billion.

Acting chief executive, Calib Cassim says load shedding was “contained” during winter, with Stage 6 implemented for only 39 days out of a total estimated 153 days. Going forward, Eskom hopes to keep load shedding at Stage 4 and below, with plant outages not exceeding 14,500MW. DM

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