https://www.miningweekly.com
Africa|Building|Coal|Eskom|Freight|Gas|Infrastructure|Power|rail|Safety|SECURITY|System|Trucks|Turbines|Infrastructure|Turbines|Operations
Africa|Building|Coal|Eskom|Freight|Gas|Infrastructure|Power|rail|Safety|SECURITY|System|Trucks|Turbines|Infrastructure|Turbines|Operations
africa|building|coal|eskom|freight|gas|infrastructure|power|rail|safety|security|system|trucks|turbines-company|infrastructure|turbines-person|operations

That blackout feeling

19th May 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

Font size: - +

There is justifiable concern that South Africa’s grid could collapse this winter, given ongoing high breakdowns across the Eskom coal fleet, the absence of one Koeberg unit and a rise in demand in response to the colder weather.

While the probability of a total blackout is low, the possibility of Stage 8-plus loadshedding is high. And at such levels, it will be difficult for most South Africans to distinguish between a blackout and loadshedding, as on many days we will endure far more hours without power than with power.

Individuals and businesses, therefore, do need to prepare for a scenario that may not technically be a total grid collapse but will pose risks that are not dissimilar to those that could present during a sustained blackout.

The immediate fear relates to an intensification of crime and violence, as safety and security infrastructure and operations are largely dependent, as is the case with most activities in the modern era, on electricity. The risk of looting and rioting could be further exacerbated if food supply chains are disrupted, given that electricity is required all along that chain. The agricultural industry has done an unbelievable job until now to ensure that loadshedding has not translated into shortages, but the impact is being felt in higher prices, which are undermining affordability, and that could also spark unrest.

Another area of concern relates to the security of supply of diesel, which is playing a key role in mitigating the worst effects of loadshedding. Diesel is not only being used by Eskom to produce electricity, but also across industries to keep the lights on and even by many households. What’s more, the collapse of parts of the freight rail system has increased our reliance on trucks, which are fuelled by diesel.

The diesel supply-demand balance is, thus, going to be important to watch in the coming months, with Eskom expecting to ramp up the load factor of its open-cycle gas turbines from an average of 11% to around 20%. Businesses and households that can still afford to do so will do likewise should Stage 8-plus levels be declared.

Given that the authorities have been so slow to react to a crisis that has been building for over 16 years, there are very few levers other than diesel and loadshedding left for the system operator to pull this winter. Perhaps government could consider power buybacks to incentivise large consumers to conduct their yearly shutdowns over June and July, but all the other demand-side levers are likely to take months, possibly years, to scale up.

The only possible immediate prospect for relief, therefore, is associated with the performance of the coal fleet and whether breakdowns can be limited to below 15 000 MW. This, no doubt, is the plan, but the prospect of success if arguably low, particularly given the recent breakdown performance, which has been closer to 20 000 MW.

It is, thus, not unreasonable to prepare for the worst.

Edited by Terence Creamer
Creamer Media Editor

Comments

Showroom

VEGA Controls SA (Pty) Ltd
VEGA Controls SA (Pty) Ltd

For over 60 years, VEGA has provided industry-leading products for the measurement of level, density, weight and pressure. As the inventor of the...

VISIT SHOWROOM 
Avlock International
Avlock International

Avlock International is a leading manufacturer and distributor of Specialized Fastening Systems.

VISIT SHOWROOM 

Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer
On The Air (19/07/2024)
19th July 2024 By: Martin Creamer
Platinum, diamonds, hydrogen make headlines
Platinum, diamonds, hydrogen make headlines
19th July 2024

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
PLUS
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?

MAGAZINE & ONLINE

SUBSCRIBE

RESEARCH CHANNEL AFRICA

SUBSCRIBE

CORPORATE PACKAGES

CLICK FOR A QUOTATION







sq:0.254 0.29s - 128pq - 2rq
1:
1: United States
Subscribe Now
2: United States
2: