Two weeks ago, the Department of Public Enterprises and Eskom briefed the South African public about the state of the country’s Power System, which I reiterated that we are managing a delicate electricity system.
In light of the above, Eskom today declared a power emergency at 06:00 am; where they indicated that rotational load shedding will be implemented, due to the constraint state of the power system.
Reasons for the declaration are:
Over the last week, Eskom has depleted dry coal stockpiles at some power stations due to the rainy weather conditions. This has contributed to severe system constraints due to lower power output as a result of wet and poor quality coal;
Last night Eskom lost three units at Kendal Power Station (in Mpumalanga), as well as having to reduce output at other power stations, Duvha in particular which has its conveyor belts being reconstructed following a fire in December 2013.
In addition, dam levels are low at Drakensberg and Palmiet Pumped Storage power stations. These plants act as reserves during peak plants and due to the constraints they were used beyond the peak times hence the low reserves at the dams.
This was exacerbated by the loss of imports via Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), the Zimbabwean electricity utility.
After all reserves were used and after a reduction by key industrial customers at 8h00, an additional reduction in demand of about 3000MW was needed to balance the electricity system.
To make provision for the shortfall of 3000MW Eskom’s emergency protocol requires that all customers (Eskom and municipality customers) reduce their demand by 20% through rotational load shedding.
It is anticipated that the emergency will continue until after the evening peak tonight.
An assessment will be made on the prognosis for tomorrow.
The three Kendal units are expected to return during the day as well as another unit by evening peak from Majuba Power Station. The poor wet weather conditions are expected to continue until next week.
Load shedding is done as a last resort to protect the national system from a total blackout which would have significant impact on the economic developments of South Africa. Utilising load shedding enables Eskom to balance supply and demand in a controlled manner while minimising the risk of a total blackout. A total blackout also takes longer up to weeks, to recover to normality.
Although, this is the first time load has been shed since 2008, Eskom is in a much better position to manage the situation than they were then: in that they have the skills, experience and the knowledge, with a robust risk and early warning protocol in place. They have also developed communication protocols with Municipalities and various stakeholders
Load shedding schedules and protocol
The load shedding will impact all customer segments throughout the country. It will be implemented nationally on a rotational basis as per Eskom’s load shedding schedules available on the Eskom website. Each municipality has developed their own schedule to manage their load shedding within the various stages.
There are three stages of load shedding and we are currently in stage three that requires up to 3000MW of demand reduction.
Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises have initiated all communication protocol. This includes media, stakeholder and social media messaging. This is in line with the transparent communication we have been having on the challenges that Eskom is facing in managing a very delicate power system.
SOURCE: South African Official News