The City of Cape Town reveals that Eskom, the country’s power utility provider, is causing massive energy instability in some instances following high levels of load shedding. The city reports that Eskom is over-shedding, then suddenly moves to a lower stage to prevent system instability, making it impossible to communicate timeously. The sudden changes necessitate that the city must analyse Eskom’s electricity and load-shedding schedules to determine new schedules regularly.
According to Beverley van Reenen, the city’s mayoral committee member for energy, the high levels of load shedding are placing pressure on the city’s energy teams on the ground. She says that the teams that handle all the load-shedding-related work have much on their plate, as they also conduct normal maintenance and repairs. Adding to this, long outages per day has doubled the time it takes to effect repairs.
Apart from Eskom’s over-shedding practices, which have been causing havoc for the city, Van Reenen lists other growing load shedding trends. These include peak-time demand spikes between 16h00 and 21h00 that have been overloading the system, causing some areas to be switched off. Furthermore, geysers, pool pumps, uninterrupted power supplies, and other electrical equipment left on when the power goes off for load-shedding are all switched back on at the same time when the load-shedding is over, overloading the system.
Eskom’s sudden power toggles have necessitated that the city switch power back on in phases to prevent large area outages. The city is trying to make the most of the switching window it has. For instance, shedding usually takes place between 20h00 and 22h00, and the city has approximately 30 minutes to switch everyone back on, provided it doesn’t harm the power grid.
The city is giving the presence of load shedding in the city of Cape Town serious attention, noting that some areas are reportedly battling to repair infrastructure post-flood damage. The city has also been providing free workshops dealing with solar PV, renewable energy, and other topics as part of the ongoing effort to improve energy efficiency.
The Western Cape hub has equally been on a significant push to become energy independent and put an end to load shedding. The mayor’s Energy Priority Programme has brought substantial investment in renewable energy, including embedded independent power purchases, power storage, and waste-to-energy, among others.
Cape Town’s efforts towards energy independence come amid Eskom’s challenges that have been worsening load shedding in much of the country. The company’s sudden over-shedding tendencies signal a possible energy crisis, which the city is taking very seriously.