Tag: loadshedding

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”.

Source: Telecom Paper

Vodacom South Africa says it has spent R1-billion on batteries over the last six months to ensure its network stayed up during loadshedding, MyBroadband reported.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the power outages this year forced the operator to increase its back-up power investment.

South Africa suffered the worst ever load-shedding in 2020, with total gigawatt-hours shed surpassing the 2019 record in August. In September, the cumulative load-shedding for 2020 was already 23% worse than the whole of 2019.

To create a robust mobile network, Vodacom directed 20 percent of its R5-billion capital expenditure over the last six months towards back-up power.

To buy and install new batteries at mobile sites is only part of the challenge as criminals are wrecking mobile networks to get their hands on the batteries, which are then sold on the black market.

Joosub said Vodacom is losing around R150-million per year because of battery theft, which is an ongoing battle.

 

Eskom caught lying about load-shedding

Source: MyBroadband

Eskom has admitted to exceeding stage 4 load-shedding limits, which energy advisor Ted Blom said shows the power utility is lying about which stage they have implemented.

This year, South Africa experienced the worst load-shedding it has ever seen, with 49 days of blackouts to date.

According to Eskom’s announcements, load-shedding peaked at stage 4, but Blom highlighted that the power utility exceeded stage 4 in September.

Official information shared by Eskom showed load-shedding of 5 359MW on Wednesday 2 September and 5 642MW on Thursday 3 September.

This far exceeds stage 4 load-shedding, which “allows for up to 4 000MW of the national load to be shed”.

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha denied accusations that Eskom is deliberately deceiving the public on which load-shedding stages it is implementing.

He confirmed the accuracy of the load-shedding statistics published on 2 and 3 September but said load curtailment should also be taken into consideration.

“Once Eskom declares Stage 4 load-shedding, it can request any major industrial customer to curtail up to 20% of load,” Mantshantsha said.

“This amounts to 1 200MW of demand that must be curtailed by industrial customers as part of the licenced load curtailment in terms.”

“Load-shedding is what Eskom sheds from the public, and that is what Eskom announced at Stage 4 on Thursday.”

However, when pushed on the amount of load-shedding which truly happened on Thursday, Mantshantsha said “Eskom did shed 4,400MW on the day in question”.

This equates to stage 5 load-shedding based on Eskom’s own definitions. Mantshantsha, however, would not answer the question on whether the power utility implemented stage 5 load-shedding.

It is not clear why Eskom refused to admit it implemented stage 5 load-shedding, as this could cause confusion among consumers.

Blom accused Eskom of being deceitful in its answers and trying to downplay the severity of load-shedding in South Africa.

Eskom’s load-shedding stage definitions
Eskom explains the different load-shedding stages on its website and in the documentation it provides to the public and municipalities.

Here are the current load-shedding definitions for Stage 1 to Stage 8:

Stage 1 allows for up to 1,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 2 allows for up to 2,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 3 allows for up to 3,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 4 allows for up to 4,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 5 allows for up to 5,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 6 allows for up to 6,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 7 allows for up to 7,000 MW of the national load to be shed.
Stage 8 allows for up to 8,000 MW of the national load to be shed.

According to these definitions, and after taking 1,200MW load curtailment into account, stage 5 load-shedding was implemented on 2 September and 3 September.

The table below provides an overview of the load-shedding implemented in the beginning of September.

Blom said there is a “massive difference between being forced to shed 4,000MW (13%) of total demand and 6,000MW (20%)”.

“If the power utility is short of 20% of the economy’s need it is a national disaster and requires an immediate intervention,” he said.

According to Blom, Eskom has lied to the public on load-shedding days this year and on the level of load-shedding.

He added that Eskom is also not telling the truth on how long the reconditioning program will take and the level of reconditioning done during lockdown level 5.

“In short, the public has branded Eskom as pathological liars with many examples over the last decade,” said Blom.

Blom said Eskom’s leadership should take extra precautions to ensure they are “100% factually correct and stop playing cat and mouse with the public”.

Loadshedding reappears, stages may worsen

Eskom announced Stage 2 load-shedding will continue on Wednesday from 8am to 10pm.

The power utility said the breakdown of multiple units resulted in the power system being constrained.

“With the unreliable and aged generation infrastructure, together with a number of risks on running units, there is a high possibility that additional stages of load-shedding may be implemented at short notice,” read a statement from Eskom.

A generator each broke down at Arnot, Medupi, Lethabo, Matla powerstations, while two units each at Majuba, Camden and Tutuka powerstations also broke down.
This, together with the need to conserve emergency generation reserves, necessitated that loadshedding be implemented in order to protect the integrity of the system.

Eskom is urging customers to reduce electricity usage to ease the strain on the system. The current loadshedding stage could be moved up at short notice.

Eskom begins Stage 2 loadshedding 

By Mia Lindeque for Eyewitness News

Eskom says its implementing stage two loadshedding at 8 am.

The utility says it’s battling with several breakdowns of generation units at its plants, which have taken 2 0000 megawatts off the grid.

The blackouts are expected to last until at least 10 pm.

However, Eskom is warned of a high possibility it may ramp up loadshedding to stage three for the evening peak period.

Eskom’s Sikonathi Mantshantsha said: “Eskom regrets informing the country that starting from 8 am this morning, we will have to implement loadshedding stage 2. This is due to the increase in breakdowns overnight and this morning. We will be implementing stage 2 loadshedding, as we have had additional breakdowns overnight.”

Tens of thousands of people on the west rand, the Vaal and Soweto had their power cut at 5am already.

Eskom says its implemented so-called “load reduction” in these areas to prevent network overloading.

Power was expected to be restored to these communities at 9 am, and it’s not yet clear how loadshedding will impact them after that.

 

Like a seriously unwelcome – but all-too-familiar – guest, loadshedding has returned.

To help South Africans get through the powerless days and dark nights, Orlando Luis, CEO of Brights Hardware, shares a list of eight must-have items that will keep your home (and office spaces) functional during a power outage.

Battery-powered LED lighting

“Battery-powered LED lighting is essential during power outages,” says Luis. “There is a wide range of rechargeable LED light strips, lanterns, and torches available that make keeping the lights on during loadshedding easy. You can even get a rechargeable LED desk lamp so that the kids can continue doing their homework during evening power cuts.”

Another great item to have in the home are intelligent LED light bulbs. These bulbs come in either a screw or bayonet configuration and can be used like a standard light bulb in any light fixture but they stay on during load-shedding as they hold charge for up to four hours.

Solar lighting

In addition to rechargeable and battery operated solutions, there is a wide range of solar powered lighting on the market today. These range from spot lights/security lights to solar lanterns, garden lighting and even pool lights.

“Solar powered lighting is a great solution in a sun-rich country such as ours,” advises Luis “There is no cost to recharge them, and many are practically “set and forget” and will come on automatically after sun down.”

Gas stove/cooker

Boiling water and getting meals prepared during power outages is impossible without a gas stove or cooker. Thankfully there are many different options available to consumers today – whether it is a large six plate gas hob and oven or just a simple, portable table-top one or two-plate gas cooker – and many more options in between.

“Many people are choosing to change their ovens over from electrical to gas. Not only does this mean you can carry on your dinner preparations during a power outage, but your electricity bill will also be reduced through the introduction of gas appliances,” says Luis.

Portable power bank

We all want to stay connected, especially in the dark. No electricity coupled with no means of communication is not a great combination.

“Portable power banks are a fantastic solution to ensure that you don’t run out of cell phone battery life,” advises Luis. “These compact gadgets can also charge other devices such as tablets, portable modems and speakers.”

Surge protector

It is a good idea to purchase a surge protector for your home or office. A surge protector is an electrical device that is used to protect equipment against power surges and voltage spikes that can be caused by power cuts.

“Surge protection can range from plug and play devices to systems installed at the distribution board by a registered electrician.”

Luis goes on to caution that some household insurance policies stipulate that they will not cover damage caused through power surges if the proper surge protection is not in place – “it is worth checking with your insurance provider.”

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power. A UPS differs from a generator in that it will provide near-instantaneous protection from power interruptions by supplying energy stored in batteries. It is a type of continual power system.

“A UPS is typically used to protect hardware such as computers, data centers, telecommunication equipment or other electrical equipment where an unexpected power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, serious business disruption or data loss.”

Generator

If budget allows, investing in a generator is a great way to make power outages less intrusive. “There are many different models and options to consider,” says Luis. “Entry level 2 stroke generators, such as a 950-watt unit, are unreliable if the petrol/oil mixture is not consistent, so Brights recommends starting with no lower than a 4 stroke 1200-watt generator.”

Inverters

This then introduces the question – what about people who live in complexes and housing estates that are not allowed to run a generator because of the noise pollution?

Luis says that the best option here is to purchase a pure sine wave inverter with batteries. All these units are silent except for the cooling fan which blows on the side. They also switch on automatically during load shedding.

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