The latest load shedding came unexpectedly over the weekend and during the school holidays when power consumption is expected to be lower. The situation must be extremely dire seeing that the country is currently experiencing stage 4 load shedding.
According to Ted Blom, South African Energy Advisor from the Energy Expert Coalition, by rough calculations, South Africa’s demand after hours and over weekends drops dramatically from roughly 30 GW to below 22 GW. If Eskom declares stage 4 load shedding, it means there is only 18 GW power available.
Blom says Eskom only had 18 GW capacity available for generating power out of a fleet of 46 KW. That means more than 50% of their units are off-line and not in a state of repair.
According to Blom, Eskom currently has eight units with boiler tube leeks and the boiler tube leeks are directly due to poor coal being fed into the boilers and it will take at least five years to sort it out. He says Eskom needs to procure long term contracts with decent quality coal and that the board has been there for more than a year and they haven’t done one of those contracts.
Blom furthermore says that South Africa was never dependent on Mozambique for power, however, South Africa has been using power from Mozambique, although it is only one GW and at the moment one GW is not going to make a difference.
The fact that Eskom doesn’t have diesel for the units to run is, according to Blom, because the supply chain for the diesel comes from the Middle East and it takes a ship about five days to arrive in Cape Town after it’s been ordered. Blom says because Eskom is never sure when there is going to be load shedding and they don’t have storage for the diesel, it is a big problem.
He says Eskom has to try and anticipate when they should order the diesel five days before it should arrive.
According to him the reasons for Eskom being in this dilemma are simple – they use bad quality coal, they didn’t order the ship in time to have diesel and they don’t have storage for the diesel.
He says Eskom conducted a plan for storage in 2008 but the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was rejected. Since then they never resubmitted and fixed the EIA.
Regarding the possibility of water pumps that will be down due to stage 4 load shedding Blom said anything is possible because one need to protect the integrity of the grid otherwise there will be no power for weeks if it were to collapse.
He also said more and more transformers are blowing up due to being switched on and off. Substations blew up due to the on and off switching.
Electrical appliances that are switched on and off can also double your electricity account.
Blom also said that consumers are probably not aware that if the power is not available and they are paying as a rule, each person is entitled to a rebate of those charges.
Visit Ted Blom’s Facebook Page for more information.