Eskom implemented Stage 4 load-shedding just after noon on Saturday and rolling blackouts are set to continue on Sunday.
The power utility blames the shortage of generation capacity on plant breakdowns and the loss of Mozambique imports.
But energy analyst Chris Yelland says Stage 4 load-shedding on a weekend is unprecedented.
Doubts cast on Eskom’s load shedding excuses
Cyclone Idai is not solely to blame for current energy blackout.
In a recent interview with ENCA, energy analyst Chris Yelland spoke to the inaccuracies of Eskom’s latest load shedding excuses.
Eskom’s latest excuse for the energy blackout points at cyclone Idai affecting power production, and the transmission of electricity from supplier Mozambique.
This seems to be a valid excuse until Yelland points out the flawed logic. With Stage 4 load shedding in effect, South Africa (SA) is short 4,000-megawatts of electricity. Yet, Mozambique only supplies SA with 1,000-megawatts of electricity – a 3,000-megawatt difference. Yelland believes cyclone Idai would only have contributed a small part to the current energy crisis.
Both HVDC lines (1420 km, total capacity 1400 MW) from the Cahora Bassa hydro plant between Tsongo substation in Mozambique & Apollo substation in Gauteng are down due to the tropical cyclone. Damaged lines inaccessible, Extent of damage unknown. Time to restore lines unknown. pic.twitter.com/4tAiv64Oaa
According to Yelland, Stage 4 load shedding taking place on a weekend is unprecedented and speaks to a serious crisis within our energy sector. The weekend has less energy-consumption due to it being that – weekend. Fewer people at work mean fewer people using electricity. This being paired with the fact it is a summer month – known for their lower energy consumption rates – infers Yelland to believe the crisis is more severe than let on:
“Stage 4 on a Saturday is truly unprecendent and points to a serious crisis in South Africa”
“By having load shedding, and running systems hard during this last week, the dams that take the water for pump storage schemes are probably running low, and they need to replenish those dams over the weekend… so they do that pumping over the weekend, which is adding to the problem.”
Why is it unprecedented?
Well, in a perfect world there would be no load shedding. The existence of load-shedding implies an inability of the country’s energy sector to sufficiently meet the supply and demand at hand. The situation worsens, as without an adequate supply, no reserve energy is created for unexpected circumstances. Yelland told ENCA:
“We don’t have any reserve capacity whatsoever, and in addition we are 4,000-megawatts short.”
Despite the severity of the situation, there are still short-term solutions present. The first being the implementation of correct and high-quality maintenance programs. Although this isn’t an instantaneous fix, Yelland believes the capacity to improve, through already existing infrastructure, is promising.
The second being enabling the SA citizen to become self-sufficient and generate or supplement their own electricity supply. This self-sufficiency is reliant on methods of production like generators, or rooftop solar panels.
Short-term quick-win solutions to current loadshedding:
2. Promulgate #IRP2019 without further delay & accelerate the procurement of the stalled expedited Rounds 4.5 & 5, and further rounds, of the Renewable Energy IPP programme for new utility scale wind & solar PV power plants. pic.twitter.com/9pnJAeIPJc
Yet, Yelland states the market for rooftop solar panels is held back by red-tape, and regulations, which have been held back for two years and are still not promulgated. Yelland believes if it was made readily available, estimates point to 1,000-megawatts of electricity being produced by solar panels in the first six months.
The government seems to think a R23m injection of funds, and a team of experts will solve the problem as sufficiently.
This report does not necessarily reflects the opinion of SA-news.