Load shedding (LS) to South Africa is like Brexit is to the UK

Load shedding (LS) to South Africa is like Brexit is to the UK

22nd Post Challenge of 31

 

To be fair, LS is probably a smidgen worse because millions and millions are going up in smoke on a daily basis.

Grand loss

Yesterday alone, KwaZulu-Natal’s businesses lost R30million respectively. Areas in KZN experienced LS from 6:00am to 8:00am and then again from 5:15pm until 1:15am the following morning. And it’s only supposed to be a maximum of four hours in one day.

A word from Eskom’s Chairman

Phakamani Hadebe, Eskom’s chairman, 3-months ago stated: “Load-shedding is a result of problems that we have all caused.” However, the facts, according to My Broadband, tell a modified story.

The list of problems at Eskom

The biggest problems which are causing unplanned outages at South Africa’s biggest power stations are:

  • Poor maintenance at many power stations, which cause unplanned outages.
  • A lack of skills, which means things like pressure and oil levels are not checked which can cause power generation units to switch off automatically.
  • Poor quality coal, which causes a variety of problems at local power stations.
  • Broken fans, which have to be custom-designed for each power station and take a long time to replace.
  • Various mill problems, which are causing serious problems at big power stations.
  • A decline in efficiency at Eskom and its power stations.

It should be noted that this is a condensed list, and that there are numerous other problems at individual power stations which are causing outages. Read more here.

An explanation, please

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan (ex Finance Minister fired by Zuma) says government owes South Africans an explanation on how multi-billion projects such as the Medupi and Kusile coal plants failed.

Read more here.

Let’s blame Cyclone Idai

The latest comes from Andrew Etzinger, Eskom’s acting chief of power generation, whom told City Press that the transmission lines from Mozambique to South Africa were damaged by cyclone Idai.

Read more here.

So how did Eskom turn from world’s best to basket case in 15 years?

…Apartheid Beneficiaries

Dozens more facilities followed over the next six decades, turning Eskom into the world’s fourth-largest power utility. Expansion peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s when about 20,000 megawatts of power, or almost half of Eskom’s current capacity, was installed. Segregationist rule ensured factories, mines and white households were the primary beneficiaries.

Eskom’s expansion was curtailed in 1985, as sanctions were instituted against the apartheid regime, foreign loans dried up and the economy stagnated, along with electricity demand. By the time the African National Congress took power under Nelson Mandela in the first multiracial elections in 1994, the utility’s reserve margin, or the amount by which generating capacity exceeds peak demand, was more than double the international norm of 15 percent.

The ANC’s energy policy initially focused on connecting the more than 40 percent of households and tens of thousands of schools and clinics in black areas to the electricity grid. The broadening of access to power coupled with resurgent growth as the economy opened up and began to consume Eskom’s excess capacity.

Alarm Bells

“In the 1980s and early 1990s, Eskom had a huge degree of autonomy,” Anton Eberhard, a professor at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, said by e-mail. “That gradually got eroded. There was a time when the government stopped Eskom from building new power stations.”

The first alarm bells were sounded publicly in 1998, when the Department of Minerals and Energy released a policy paper warning that the country could run short of energy by 2007 and a decision on expansion would be needed by the end of the next year. It advocated allowing private investment in the industry.

With no imminent crisis in sight, the government took no immediate action.

In 2000, Thulani Gcabashe replaced Allen Morgan as CEO. In 2001, the utility was named power company of the year at the Financial Times Global Energy Awards in New York. All of its 78 production units were considered to be in good working condition.

Read more here.

 

On the ‘Light’ side

 

 

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