Tag: loadshedding

By Chad Williams for IOL

“We regret to inform you that load shedding Stage 2 will be implemented from 12pm today until Sunday evening. More information to follow shortly.”

If you live in South Africa, the above statement is enough to drive you up the wall. South Africans have been living with rolling blackouts for nearly 15 years.

A recent video of a rugby match in South Africa went viral, and not for the action on the field, but rather for the reaction of South African sports commentators shouting, “load shedding, load shedding”, after the stadium was thrown into darkness.

I have always wondered: Are we as South Africans the only African country battling with almost daily rolling blackouts, which not only disrupt our day-to-day activities, hurts our already battered economy, but also causes an entire nation to live in a constant state of stress?

To my surprise, other African countries are also waking up to darkness. The consensus is that Africa needs power now more than ever.

Botswana

Botswana is also dealing with a debilitating power crisis.

According to icafrica.org, Botswana’s need for electricity grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s as a result of fast economic expansion.

The country’s power now comes from the Morupule A power station, which has capacity of 118MW and was completed in 1989. Botswana can also generate about 160MW from diesel, but this is expensive. Peak demand is estimated at over 600MW, so it is reliant on imports, mainly from South Africa.

Zimbabwe and Zambia

According to a 2019 Business Tech report, rolling electricity blackouts lasting 18 hours a day have choked the two economies.

Ballooning debt has left them unable to afford to import enough power to help cushion shortages.

Even if they could, the region’s biggest supplier, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., doesn’t have enough capacity to keep the lights on in its home market, South Africa.

Ghana

In Ghana, dumsor, which loosely translated means ‘off and on’, is a persistent, irregular, and unpredictable electric power outage.

The frequent Ghanaian blackouts are caused by power supply shortage. Ghanaian generating capacity by 2015 was 400-600 megawatts, less than Ghana needed.

Namibia

Namibia’s electricity generation has dropped to below 40% of its capacity as the worst drought in almost a century has hit the country’s own hydropower plant and others in the region reliant on water from dams and rivers, writes Reuters.

An ongoing drought, plus power blackouts at South Africa’s power company Eskom, on which Namibia relies for 70% of its energy requirements, has put the security of the country’s electricity supply at risk.

Mozambique

Mozambique is a resource-rich energy hub, yet rural community access to electricity remains low, and urban centres suffer poor service quality, writes Science Direct.

According to research by Science Direct, an estimated 57% of African households and businesses experience electricity reliability issues such as frequent, unpredictable power outages lasting for hours or days.

Some countries with the largest electricity access deficit, such as Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique, experience at least one power outage per week.

 

SA could be loadshed for 81% of the year

Source: MyBroadband

Eskom has revealed that, in the worst-case scenario, South Africa will be load-shed for 295 days — or 81% of the year — between April 2022 and 2023.

What’s worse is that, in the scenario, Eskom would have to burn more than R35.9 billion worth of diesel to run its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) while maintaining up to Stage 4 load-shedding.

The power utility doesn’t believe it is viable to run its OCGTs at this level.

“History has shown that it is not possible to use more than about R1.2bn of diesel in a month due to the physical limitations of moving the diesel to the OCGT stations,” Eskom noted in its State of the System presentation.

However, its worst-case scenario would see nearly R3 billion worth of diesel being burnt each month.

Eskom provided three scenarios for expected load-shedding between April 2022 and 2023 — Base Case, Base Case + 1,500MW, and Base Case + 3,000MW (or worst-case scenario).

It should be noted that Eskom has adjusted its scenarios since October 2021, upping the intervals from 1,000MW to 1,500MW.

The Base Case — or most optimistic — scenario accounts for a maximum difference between peak demand and available generation capacity of 12,000MW over the winter months. This will increase to 13,000MW in summer.

Its forecast for these scenarios paints a grim picture.

The other two scenarios were stress-tested to determine the impact should the 12,000MW and 13,000MW thresholds be exceeded.

South Africa would see a maximum of 16 days of load-shedding in the Base Case outlook, with diesel costs to run OCGTs reaching R6.2 billion over the year.

However, the country is already beyond the Base Case scenario, which showed that Stage 1 would be the highest level of power cuts Eskom would implement.

The same can be said for Eskom’s Base Case + 1,500MW — or neutral outlook, which shows that South Africa could experience power cuts up to Stage 3 at the worst. The country already experienced Stage 4 load-shedding in mid-April.

Eskom also won’t be able to run its OCGTs at the levels required for the neutral scenario. The power utility would have to use R19 billion worth of diesel through the year — or almost R1.6 billion each month.

In other words, Eskom would have to load-shed at a higher stage to make up the difference between what it can spend on OCGT diesel, and what the theoretical scenario demands.

Eskom relies heavily on its OCGTs to compensate for load losses and reduce the difference between demand and capacity.

As of 31 March 2021, the use of these plants had cost the power utility R6.4 billion. It will exceed its year-end projection of R8.5 billion OCGT expenditure at the current rate.

According to data provided by EskomSePush, South Africa is on track for the middle-ground scenario despite Eskom low-balling the maximum stage, as the country experienced eight days of load-shedding in April.

The country barely had load-shedding during April since 2020, which indicates that the system could be worse off than it was around the same time last year.

This is reflected in Eskom’s latest weekly system status report, which revealed that the energy availability factor of its fleet for the year was 58.64%, compared to 61.79% in 2021

 

SA set for worst year of loadshedding

By Paul Burkhardt for Bloomberg

South Africa is headed for a record year of power cuts if the rate of station breakdowns fails to improve, particularly at coal-fuelled plants.

State-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said it will again ration electricity on Tuesday after various generation units were shut for repairs or didn’t return to service as expected. That means nationwide cuts will have occurred on seven of the 10 days in May so far, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Record outages

Africa’s most industrialised nation was already on track to exceed the annual record for energy shed from controlled blackouts, a practice locally known as loadshedding that’s used to prevent the grid from a total collapse. There were 1,054 gigawatt hours cut through April versus 2,521 in the entire year earlier, itself a record, according to a report by the state-owned Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The crisis surrounding Eskom, which generates almost all the nation’s electricity including 80% from burning coal, causes disruption to both daily life in South Africa and economic activity. The ongoing outages have increased pressure on Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter, while government programs to build new generation have faced various delays.

Wasted energy

Beyond the operational issues, the utility has a massive debt pile and the distraction of an ongoing reorganisation. Phillip Dukashe, Eskom’s group executive for generation, quit on Monday after 26 years at the company. Eskom and the government are also working on plans to utilize $8.5 billion of funding pledged at the COP26 climate summit with the aim of moving South Africa away from coal.

— With assistance by Rene Vollgraaff

Source: Leader Post

A court hearing on Tuesday will determine whether South Africa can move forward with a project to top up its energy capacity after a year of record power blackouts. The ruling will also be critical for the businessman who blocked the plan with his lawsuit.

The country’s efforts to add power capacity with an emergency program ground to a halt when 39-year-old Aldworth Mbalati’s DNG group of companies sued the government alleging corruption in the award of a contract. DNG, which has U.K. politician Peter Hain on its board and, according to Mbalati, counts Helios Investment Partners among its backers, lost the case in South Africa’s High Court in January. It applied to appeal, a decision on which will determine whether the project will be stalled further.

For Mbalati’s DNG, the court ruling would come as it finds itself bogged down by mounting financial woes, according to executives who’ve quit his company. DNG’s bids for the biggest piece of the 2,000 megawatt power deal had been an attempt at bolstering its fortunes after some failed projects. DNG was beaten by Turkish rival Karpowership, whose lower bid offered to supply 1,220 megawatts of power to the South African government from plants that could generate revenue of 216 billion rand ($14 billion) over 20 years.

After South Africa’s Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which oversaw the tender, rejected DNG’s bids, the company sued the government, accusing people it said were connected to Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and senior energy department officials of corruption to ensure Karpowership won. Those people have denied any wrongdoing.

In court documents, the government said DNG’s bid was deficient, a view supported by High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga, who said in his ruling that “the demonstrable reason for DNG’s unsuccessful bids was because it failed to meet a myriad” of qualification criteria.

The IPP said that Mbalati’s company couldn’t prove it owned the land on which it planned to build power plants and couldn’t show it had a supply of gas to run the plants. DNG’s lawsuit has meant related projects backed by Scatec ASA, Acwa Power Co., TotalEnergies and Electricite de France SA were also halted as banks are reluctant to conclude financial arrangements while uncertainty hangs over the deals, according to bidders who asked not to be named.

“Banks remain risk averse about the DNG appeal,” said Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex. “If the case is admitted to the roll it will delay financial close of the emergency power program considerably further and push back the arrival of energy onto the grid maybe into 2024.”

For DNG

Failure of the appeal would raise questions about what’s next for DNG — and Mbalati. Once dubbed a “visionary entrepreneur” by Southern Africa Shipping News, Mbalati finds himself heading a company that has not consistently paid salaries and suppliers for months, according to eight former employees and suppliers who asked not to be identified. At least five senior executives and officials have quit since July, they said, declining to be identified because the information isn’t public.

“All staff at the lower-to mid-level of employment have been paid in full, only senior management took a salary reduction or holiday,” lawyers for Mbalati and DNG, Larry Marks Attorneys, said in a written response to queries. “With regard to senior management, our client has entered into arrangements with same on taking salary reductions until Helios completes their contributions at which stage that reduction will be reversed.” On the staff exits, the lawyers said DNG’s cash flow has been impacted by the pandemic and some people have left “for various reasons — we can’t stop that.”

The lawyers said DNG’s cash-flow constraints are due to the “the depressed world market in the last two years and as a result of which Helios did not historically meet its obligations towards DNG in full.”

Helios didn’t respond to queries from Bloomberg about the claim by Mbalati’s lawyers that it hasn’t met its obligations to DNG. The investment firm said in a response to queries from Bloomberg this month that it’s not invested in DNG but in Access LNG, a company which provides “development support” to DNG. Access LNG, a joint venture between Helios and Gasfin Development SA, has worked with DNG, Karpowership and TotalEnergies SE, said Roland Fisher, Gasfin’s co-founder, declining to comment on whether it’s currently doing business with DNG.

Other concerns

Mbalati’s company has problems on other fronts, too. Its main industrial warehouse had its power cut off by its landlord, Man Energy Solutions South Africa Ltd., after a dispute about the payment of bills, according to court documents from DNG’s lawsuit against the company. Also, some suppliers for a 2021 launch of Mbalati’s LNG business at the world-famous Wanderers Cricket stadium haven’t had their bills settled, people familiar with the events said.

“Our client had a legitimate dispute with its landlord due to over invoicing which is a contractual dispute,” lawyers for Mbalati and DNG said. They also said that a “significant number of our clients’ suppliers have been paid in full and commercial arrangements are in place with the remainder.”

DNG board member Hain referred queries about the company’s challenges to Mbalati.

The company has suffered setbacks in the past. A government tender for gas-fired power plants was canceled after Mbalati had assembled a team including Australian gas experts in 2015 to formulate bids. In 2019, he announced a plan for an 8,000-ton LNG barge, currently described on DNG’s website as “the largest vessel by weight to ever be built on the African continent.” The shipyard where it was supposed to be built said it canceled the contract after delays. Mbalati and DNG’s lawyers said the plan has been deferred until 2024.

Now, the company needs to see if it’s power-project bid becomes another setback.

 

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

Eskom has warned the public to brace for more power cuts for the next 10 months as the capacity outlook for the period ending August 2022 showed that the power system would remain constrained.

The struggling power utility yesterday warned the public to expect an increased risk of load shedding while the reliability maintenance programme of its ageing coal fleet was being implemented.

Eskom has so far implemented 32 days of loadshedding since April 1 due to increasing breakdowns and low plant availability, and currently there is a nightly Stage 2 loadshedding.

Eskom’s energy available factor (EAF) has declined to 65.3 percent this financial year against a target of 70 percent, and down from the average of 67.9 percent achieved last year.

As a result, Eskom needs an additional 4 000MW to 6 000MW generation capacity to eliminate the risk of loadshedding and to ensure the necessary electrical energy that is needed to stimulate the economy.

It is not clear how soon the 2 000MW of emergency additional power commissioned by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will come into the grid.

Eskom group executive for generation Phillip Dukashe said a key contributor to the low EAF was high levels of planned maintenance over the summer months.

Since September, Eskom has increased its planned maintenance programme to an average 5 500MW of capacity, almost double the average maintenance carried out in the same period in September 2019 to April 2020.

Dukashe said the recent high levels of unplanned outages was a concern, but Eskom would continue to drive its reliability maintenance recovery programme.

“Generation plant performance is still unreliable and unpredictable, but improvement initiatives are being driven hard to get to acceptable levels,” Dukashe said.

“We need to ensure system stability and to meet demand a minimum 4 000MW of additional generating capacity is critical.

“This will ensure the space for generation to continue with the planned reliability maintenance and refurbishment programme, and that the operational recovery is timeously funded and resourced to enable maximum readiness to execute successfully.”

Due to the system constraints, Eskom said it had used more than the anticipated levels of diesel for its Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs), spending at least R2.5 billion so far to keep the lights on.

Eskom chief operations officer Jan Oberholzer said the utility would be required to extensively use the OCGTs to either avert loadshedding or to reduce the magnitude thereof.

Oberholzer conceded that load shedding carries a significant damaging effect to the economy.

“We are aware that the increased maintenance does elevate the probability of loadshedding in the short term, but this is necessary to improve the future performance of the generation fleet,” Oberholzer said.

“Our objective is to achieve a reliable and sustainable generation plant, thereby reducing the risk and frequency of the occurrence of loadshedding. As such, Eskom will not compromise on reliability maintenance and mid-life refurbishment.”

 

Plan for loadshedding as cold front hits

By Tom Head for The South African

One of the top energy experts in South Africa has Tweeted an ominous 15-word warning for the country, forecasting a very tense period for Eskom in the days to come. On top of the Level 4 restrictions and the aftermath of widespread looting, load shedding may soon make an unwelcome return.

Ted Blom is something of an oracle when it comes to all things Eskom. His usually scathing takes on the load shedding situation never seem to be far from the mark, and when he says there’s a problem, it really is time to listen:

“Electricity supply going to be VERY tight again this week – plan for possible load shedding”

South Africa has been burdened by load shedding in 2021, as rolling blackouts became as bothersome as the pandemic itself. Businesses, already crippled by lockdown and illnesses, have also had to contend with one of Eskom’s worst years on record. For the past month or so, the situation has been relatively serene – but that’s likely to change soon.

Freezing cold conditions are set to blast the country this week, and that poses some severe operational challenges to the utility. On Monday, regions in Limpopo, North West, Gauteng and Free State have been hit by load reduction schedules – signalling that a national plan of action may have to take place soon.

There have been no outages since the middle of June, but it remains to be seen just how severe a potential new period of load shedding could be. For now, the experts are warning citizens to “plan for the worst”.

 

Eskom’s power grid is in deep trouble

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

Eskom has provided a detailed explanation of how its low energy availability will result in an increased risk of load-shedding this year.

A recent report published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found that Eskom’s low Energy Availability Factor (EAF) was a driving force for the record-breaking load-shedding last year.

“Eskom fleet EAF is on a declining trend and drove load-shedding events in 2020,” the CSIR noted.

EAF measures plant availability including planned maintenance, unplanned breakdowns, and energy losses not under plant management control.

The statistics reveal that load-shedding occurred for 859 hours of 2020 (9.8%) despite a reduction in demand during the national COVID-19 lockdown.

This is bad news for 2021, as Eskom’s EAF has continued to drop into 2021, which will likely result in increased load-shedding until this improves.

According to Eskom’s latest weekly generation availability report, the average EAF for the year to date is only 58.55%.

In response to questions from MyBroadband regarding the effect of its declining EAF on load-shedding, the power utility said that lower EAF figures increase the risk of load-shedding.

“It is correct that as EAF drops, all other factors remaining the same, the risk of load shedding would increase,” Eskom told MyBroadband.

Falling energy availability means more load-shedding
Eskom said that its power system was currently constrained, a state partly due to the low EAF of the generating fleet. Load-shedding is subsequently required to correct this supply/demand imbalance.

The power utility also said, however, that EAF was only one half of the equation – the other being the demand it needs to meet.

“The dispatchable generation is required to meet the residual demand,” Eskom said.

“This residual demand is the total customer demand of the country less the power supplied by the renewable generation (wind generation, solar generation, concentrating solar power generation, biomass generation etc.) ”

“The residual demand is, therefore, made up of customer demand and the contribution from the renewable generation,” it said.

Each of these factors is variable, and the variance determines the strain on the system and the risk of load-shedding.

“In the case of the renewable generation, the contribution is dependent on wind and solar radiation and there is a strong seasonal effect on the wind generation,” Eskom said.

“The customer demand is also variable changing in the range of 22GW to 34GW over the year with higher demand during the winter months.”

“In general, lower EAF combined with high residual demand will result in load-shedding. Load-shedding is also unfortunately required when the fleet availability drops even further from the average availability for more than a few days.”

Eskom added that it is the generally low EAF coupled with the unreliability and unpredictability of the plant that results in load-shedding.

“All factors must improve to significantly reduce the risk of load-shedding,” it said.

Why EAF is falling
Eskom’s EAF is continuing to decline due to a number of factors, the most prominent of which is power plant failures and breakdowns.

“The major contributors to unplanned energy losses (UCLF) are partial load losses (where units are unable to operate at full load), boiler tube leaks, trips, outage slip and other full load losses,” Eskom said.

It should, however, be noted that Eskom is also conducting reliability maintenance on its power plants, which means that a portion of its fleet is taken offline for extended periods to resolve major issues and defects.

Once this program is complete, Eskom said it expects the risk of load-shedding to decline somewhat. However, while EAF may improve, the power utility still faces a significant capacity shortfall for the next five years.

“Eskom’s generating fleet is unreliable and unpredictable,” Eskom said.

“Together with focussed attention on the areas that contribute most significantly to load losses, Eskom has been embarking on a programme of increased much-needed reliability maintenance.”

“Only once that programme has been completed can we expect the plant performance to become more reliable and less unpredictable,” it said.

859 hours of loadshedding in 2020

By Kaylynn Palm for EWN

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Tuesday said for almost 10% of 2020, there was load shedding.

A report compiled by the council said the country endured 859 hours of blackouts last year.

The council’s Jarrad Wright said: “Possibly going forward, it doesn’t seem like it is going to look good, which is why our biggest recommendation is procurement that talks to a customer response and enabling regulatory frameworks especially for large customers to start to self-supply for themselves.”

He’s suggested the problem be tackled in various ways: “We can’t just rely on the coal fleet returning and it seems like it has not and doesn’t look like it will as its eligibility level declined from 2019 from 67% to 65% in 2020.”

He said during the COVID-19 lockdown last April, electricity demand went down significantly but when the country came out of the risk-adjusted strategy, it shot back up.

“Nothing really changed in terms of energy availability and as a result of that, there was a return to load shedding.”

EskomSePush removed from the Google Play Store

Source: JacarandaFM

Planning your day around loadshedding got a little more difficult after Google suspended the EskomSePush app from the Play Store.

On Sunday, co-founder of the popular load shedding app, Herman Maritz, tweeted a screenshot of a message from Google. The message stated that the notification app EskomSePush (ESP) has been pulled from the Google Play Store.

The suspension happened a month after the app had garnered more than 2.2-million users.

When asked about the reason for the suspension by a Twitter user, Maritz mentioned that Google’s initial suspension email was quite vague.

“We have been getting a few rejections about User Generated Content. But we have everything in place according to policies: banned words, community reporting, moderators. Today they claim “Misleading Claims” no information given,” he explains.

MyBroadband reported that, according to Google, while the app does have the ability to flag inappropriate users in the app, there was no way to report objectionable content and take action against this when needed. In addition, Google also indicated that EskomSePush had supposedly not met its COVID-19 app policies.

By midday, on Monday, the updated ESP app was reinstated on the Google Play Store. Android users can download the app from this link.

Brace for Stage 8 loadshedding, says expert

Power and mining expert Ted Blom has warned South Africans that they should brace themselves for the worst year of loadshedding yet in 2021, with Stage 8 being a possibility before the end of winter.

In the latest episode of the Free Marketeers podcast, Blom provided his analysis of the utility’s situation and a prognosis for loadshedding in the next year.

The highlights of Blom’s predictions include:

  • Eskom is understating the amount of power it was actually shedding from the national grid
  • Eskom already interrupts 2 000MW of supply to its big customers when it announces load-shedding for the general public (so Stage 1 load-shedding or shedding 1 000MW is in fact a 3,000MW shortage)
  • Eskom is capable of handling about 11 000MW of shortages before having to implement load-shedding
  • The utility’s outlook for the next three months in its latest system status report showed a near-consistent unavailability of 20,000MW or more when taking both planned maintenance work and unplanned outages into account
  • The deficit over the next three months would hover around 9 000MW
  • Based on Eskom’s own forecasts, 2021 is going to be the worst year of load-shedding on record

What happens during Stage 8?

Stage 8 load-shedding is implemented when 8 000MW needs to be shed from the national grid in order to prevent a total collapse of the system.

During stage 8, consumers can expect much more frequent power cuts, to be without electricity for 48 hours over four days, or 50% of the time.

The worst level of load-shedding previously experienced in South Africa was Stage 6, which was implemented in December 2019 after a technical problem at Medupi Power Station.

At the time, Eskom needed to shed 6 000MW, which meant that around 40% of its capacity had been unavailable.

Response

Eskom’s response to the outlook was that “while it endeavours to only load shed at Stage 4 or below and only when truly necessary, higher stages of load shedding could be required”.

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