Eskom’s employing Day Zero-like tactics to avoid load shedding this winter

kelvin power station johannesburg eskom

Eskom on Monday issued a statement alerting South Africa to possible load shedding this week but that citizens are the key factor in avoiding it.

The national power utility noted that due to the “colder weather conditions expected across the country” and the resultant demand on power to increase, “the power system is forecasted to be tight for this week”.

Eskom last implemented load shedding more than two weeks ago.

As the City of Cape Town called for residents to reduce water usage in 2017 and 2018 to avoid complete systems failure, or what it called Day Zero, Eskom is now employing similar marketing tactics in 2019.

“South Africans can make a huge difference by rallying towards the common cause of using electricity efficiently, having the collective potential of reducing demand by up to 500MW and saving the equivalent of one unit at a power station,” the utility wrote in its release published to Twitter. It suggests this is possible due to the 554MW saving it recorded on Earth Day this weekend, which encouraged participants to switch off their lights.

Eskom notes that it averted load shedding for three days last week, even though power cuts were likely.

“Eskom was successful in keeping the lights on as a result of improved performance of commercial units which resulted in unplanned breakdown of around 8500MW,” it wrote.

This winter though, the utility hopes to have recovered more than 6000MW of that capacity through plant maintenance. It also believes that power from the Cahora Bassa scheme in Mozambique — which was ravaged by Cyclone Idai in March — will again be operational.

Still, until that happens, you’ll be seeing a bit more of Eskom’s “use electricity smartly” campaign. But while Day Zero was averted, will Eskom’s crisis be largely solved by winter? Only time will tell.

Feature image: Kelvin Power Station outside Johannesburg, one of the few power stations in South Africa not owned by Eskom, by Andy Walker/Memeburn

Andy Walker
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