Betting on Efficiency: A Possible Reduction in Load Shedding
In a bid to tackle South Africa’s crippling power crisis, the government is betting on an efficiency-driven strategy. Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa recently shared that by optimizing power usage among households and businesses, we could effectively cut one stage of load shedding.
Power Conservation: The Golden Ticket?
According to Minister Ramokgopa, saving 1,000 MW of power, equivalent to one stage of load shedding, is a feasible short-term goal. He suggests this could be achieved by motivating households to shift the charging of inverters and batteries to off-peak hours.
“Presently, we witness a surge in demand post load shedding, as consumers recharge backup solutions while simultaneously consuming power for regular use,” Ramokgopa said. The government, he stressed, aims to shift this charging activity to overnight hours when demand is at its lowest.
Eskom’s Plead to Households
Parallel to the government’s efforts, Eskom, the national power utility, has also urged consumers to relocate battery and inverter charging outside peak hours. Eskom’s estimates suggest that peak-time charging could potentially increase energy consumption by a staggering 1,400 MW.
Targeting Energy-Hungry Geysers
Rudi Dicks, leading the project management office in the Presidency and a part of Necom, highlighted the potential impact of managing geyser usage. With residential consumption contributing to 35% of peak demand, and geysers accounting for 30% to 50% of household energy consumption, the impact of turning off geysers during peak hours could be significant.
Dicks suggested additional energy conservation measures, like reducing geyser temperatures, employing geyser blankets, turning off pool pumps, light switches, and unnecessary appliances, and opting for energy-saving LED lighting.
Industry Incentives and Government Buildings
On the industrial front, Eskom is incentivizing businesses to reduce peak-hour consumption. Furthermore, Dicks spoke of energy efficiency measures set to be introduced across government buildings, with a target of a 10% energy saving or between 300MW and 400MW.
Capacity Augmentation: Renewable Energy and Battery Storage
Minister Ramokgopa also revealed upcoming bid windows in June and July, including Bid Window 7 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. These initiatives could add up to 5,000MW of power to the grid, and battery storage bid windows could further contribute 1,200MW.
Procuring Power: Neighbouring Countries and Power Stations
The government is exploring procurement of 1,000MW from neighbouring countries, following Ramokgopa’s recent meeting with Mozambican officials. Additionally, Necom has identified four power stations – Matla, Kriel, Kendal, and Majuba – for performance enhancement through strategic interventions.
Kusile Power Station: A Beacon of Hope
The minister expressed optimism about the online readiness of three units of Kusile power station, affected by the collapse of a flue gas desulphurisation duct, by year-end. Furthermore, Unit 5 of the power station is set to be commissioned by October, adding another 3,200MW of generation capacity.
In total, these combined efforts are projected to add over 10,000MW to the grid, a substantial boost to South Africa’s power situation. With a determined focus on power conservation and improved efficiency, the government’s strategy offers a ray of hope in the face of the energy crisis.