South Africans have once again been warned of a possible electricity crisis, as the country’s power utility, Eskom, appears to be on the brink of implementing Stage 7 load-shedding. The peak supply and demand figures of the power utility indicate a bleak picture.
What is Stage 7 Load-Shedding?
Load-shedding is an unfortunate reality in South Africa. It refers to a measure that Eskom uses to prevent the national grid from collapsing when there isn’t enough energy to meet the demand. The load-shedding scale goes from Stage 1 to Stage 8. Stage 7 is the second-highest level of load-shedding that can be implemented. If Eskom has to go beyond Stage 7, it would be the first time in South Africa’s history.
How Eskom Implements Load-Shedding
Eskom uses two main methods for reducing electricity consumption in load-shedding scenarios. These are load-shedding and load-curtailment. Load-shedding involves rotating power cuts in different regions of the country to spread the burden. Load-curtailment, on the other hand, is where Eskom provides financial incentives for highly energy-intensive businesses to reduce their energy usage in exchange for compensation.
Why Eskom May Have to Implement Stage 7 Load-Shedding
According to Eskom, its recent peak demand figures for Monday and Tuesday, the 8th and 9th of May, show that it ran 19 open-cycle gas turbines and implemented Stage 6 load-shedding and Stage 4 load-curtailment. Eskom has stated that stage 4 load-curtailment is the highest level of load-curtailment available. With Eskom already implementing the highest level of load-curtailment, it is left with only one option, which is to resort to higher stages of load-shedding in the event of a further drop in generation capacity or increase in demand.
Eskom has also indicated the risks in a statement, saying that “South Africans should continue to use electricity sparingly to avoid power cuts”.
The recent warnings from Eskom should serve as a wakeup call to South Africans. Eskom has been struggling to balance energy supply and demand in recent times. The possible implementation of Stage 7 load-shedding should emphasize the need for energy efficiency and conservation measures to be taken seriously to prevent such a crisis from occurring.