SA urged to keep saving electricity

21 January 2014

Eskom has called on South African consumers and businesses to keep saving electricity this summer as the state company continues with planned maintenance on its generating units.

Briefing the media in Cape Town on Tuesday, Eskom CEO Brian Dames reported on a successful winter maintenance programme, as well as progress with the construction of new power plants to boost South Africa’s generation capacity.

Almost two-thirds of Eskom’s power stations are past the mid-point of their expected operating lives, and therefore require higher levels of planned maintenance work.

“This winter was different in that long duration generation maintenance was planned to be done and was implemented,” Dames said. “It is an exceptional achievement to meet winter demand and do more maintenance than before.”

Dames thanked South Africans for “a magnificent performance so far”, saying that, since Eskom started its demand side management programme in 2005, the country had saved over 3 000 megawatts (MW) of energy – enough to power a city the size of Johannesburg.

He said the country’s energy supply would remain tight this summer, with increased demand throughout the day, primarily due to air-conditioning and geysers, rather than during the evening peak (5pm to 9pm).

“Unlike winter where residential customers had the greatest impact, during the summer it is primarily the commercial sector that can make the biggest difference.”

Homeowners and businesses can help in four ways, Dames said: by switching off geysers and pool pumps, switching off non-essential lights, making efficient use of air-conditioners by keeping the room temperature at 23⁰ C, and responding to Eskom’s power alerts on TV each evening.

Dames said construction was under way on Eskom’s 100 MW Sere wind farm near Koekenaap in the Western Cape, while construction continued to progress on the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations in Limpopo and Mpumalanga province.

“Eskom has undertaken a massive capacity expansion programme since 2005,” Dames said. “By the end of this decade, we will have added a total of 17.1 Gigawatts to the grid, boosting our capacity by almost 50%, from a range of new plants including return-to-service stations and open cycle gas turbines, as well as Medupi, Kusile and [the Ingula pumped storage scheme bordering the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal].

“These are large and complex projects that take time to build. We have said all along that the power system would remain tight for the next few years, until we get substantial new capacity online from our large new power stations.

“In the meantime, Eskom calls on all South Africans to pull together over the next few months and use electricity sparingly by ‘Living Lightly’ this summer. By switching off non-essential appliances during peak hours, households can help make a big difference.”

SAinfo reporter