Power crises in South Africa as Eskom implements stage 4 load shedding

South Africans are reeling under power cuts as Eskom desperately attempts to prevent grid shutdown by implementing stage 4 load shedding.

Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, met with Eskom yesterday and was told that power supply shortages have been caused by problems with coal supply and the quality of coal provided to Eskom.

Low dam storage levels at hydro-plants, diesel supply shortages both to the country and to Eskom, the collapse of power supply imported from Cahora Bassa due to the natural disaster in Mozambique, and a large number of failures and breakdowns at local coal-fired power stations are also to blame.

“It is clear that greater urgency needs to be applied to acquire equipment necessary for urgent maintenance.

We agree with South Africans that the continuation of frequent load shedding, and in particular stage four load shedding, is unacceptable and disruptive to our economy,” Minister Gordhan said after yesterday’s meeting.

Independent power analyst Chris Yelland says that there are a number of steps that need to be taken to secure South Africa’s power supply, including:

1. Unlock the regulatory constraints preventing customers being part of the solution through small scale embedded generation (SSEG), like rooftop solar PV for homes, business, buildings, warehouses, factories, mines & farms.

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.

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3. Commence procurement & construction of LNG terminals & associated infrastructure for gas engine, OCGT & CCGT flexible power plants at port facilities in KZN, Eastern Cape & Western Cape to back up variable renewable energy.

4. Commence procurement & installation of strategically positioned battery energy storage systems (BES) for voltage & frequency support, black start, load shifting, deferment of capex & back up of variable renewable energy.

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5. To supplement grid power, facilitate micro-grids with renewable energy (wind, solar PV, solar hot water geysers), battery energy storage, diesel & gas for industrial parks, campusses, housing estates & rural villages.

6. Unlock the policy, regulatory & legal constraints preventing municipalities from generating electricity for their own residents & customers, or from contracting with IPPs to supply electricity to municipalities.

The impact on the economy of South Africa will be staggering as businesses can expect to be without power for up to 8 hours a day under stage 4 load shedding.

The loss of wages will also have a devastating impact on poor South Africans as restaurants and other small business owners close their doors during load shedding.

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