Eskom looks to squeeze homes for every last megawatt

  • Eskom says it is working on an initiative to recoup 1 500MW of electricity from residences and smaller commercial customers via “demand side management.”
  • The state-owned company is apparently looking at reducing demand by recovering power through residential geysers, public street lighting and rooftop solar panels.
  • Meanwhile, the industrial sector is the largest power consumer in South Africa, with Eskom already managing its demand via a similar programme.

Amid South Africa’s ongoing electricity crisis, Eskom top brass has indicated that the company will be looking into a new initiative to recover 1 500MW of electricity through “demand side management.”

This amount can be likened to a bit more than a full stage of loadshedding. Eskom hopes if demand is reduced, so will the necessity to implement higher stages of rolling blackouts.

“Eskom needs to focus on the supply in terms of our own plants, as well as getting the DMRE more capacity from an IPP (Independent Power Producers) perspective,” said Eskom acting chief executive Calib Cassim, while speaking at a National Demand Side Management Indaba, held on Monday.

“But while we are looking at supply let’s not forget the importance of demand side management to close that gap in terms of that capacity shortfall,” Cassim added.

According to Eskom’s head of distribution, Monde Bala, the initiative has highlighted the impact of traditional geysers in residences, as well as public and street lighting as areas where power can be recouped.

Further, Eskom is trying to press a process in which new buildings will have to receive energy efficiency approval to be built.

Finally, rooftop solar PVs, which have exploded in popularity in recent months, are also being looked at by Eskom as somewhere else that the company can recoup its power.

“It is incumbent on all of us to play our role in dealing with issues of loadshedding,” said Bala.

In his regularly published open letter today, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africans should switch off home appliances that use lots of electricity, like geysers, at peak demand times – usually after 16:00 until 05:00.

“There are simple energy-saving solutions like geyser timers or geyser blankets that we can use,” the president explained.

Eskom has long asked South Africans do to the same, ever since loadshedding first reared its ugly head in 2007. Eskom will often publish warnings on Twitter, pleading to customers to switch off geysers, pool pumps and non-essential appliances like washing machines.

Meanwhile, the largest consumer of electricity in South Africa, and thus the driving force of the electricity demand is the country’s industrial sector.

According to a report from the African Energy Chamber, the industrial sector represents 54 percent of the country’s electricity usage, meanwhile, residential demand is only at 21 percent.

Eskom already has methods to curtail some of the industrial demand, including its Demand Response protocol. Part of this is an agreement that the company has with industrial partners that will see these partners earn financial incentives based on how well they manage to conserve their energy and reduce the demand.

The national demand side management programme could be seen as an extension of the industrial one, where incentives could be given out to residential and smaller commercial customers to reduce their power demand by 1MW to 5MW.

This pilot is ongoing, interested parties can apply here.

[Source – SA News]

[Image – Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash]


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