No power cuts in 2010

Eskom and its fellow Sapp members are
working hard to ensure uninterrupted
power for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
(Image: Chris Kirchhoff,
MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free
photos, visit the image library.)

Kendal power station in Mpumalanga.
Power utilities across the Southern African
Development Community will link to
secure a steady source of electricity for
2010.
(Image: Graeme Williams,
MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free
photos, visit the image library.)

Janine Erasmus

Football fans can rest assured that their 2010 Fifa World Cup experience will be uninterrupted by power cuts, as a group of 11 Southern African countries have pledged to ensure a stable supply of electricity for the world’s biggest sporting event.

The Southern African Power Pool (Sapp) has given its assurance that both the World Cup and the upcoming 2009 Confederations Cup will be consistently well-lit. Stadiums will only be plunged into darkness once the last fan has gone home.

The power group met in Maputo, Mozambique, at the end of April 2009 to discuss the initiative, which is driven by Eskom, South Africa’s national power utility. Eskom is taking great pains to ensure a steady power supply for the event, especially in light of the spate of power cuts that rocked South Africa in early 2007, causing electricity exports to neighbouring countries to slow and public opinion of the power provider to plummet.

The electricity troubles also caused widespread debate and doubt about South Africa’s ability to host a successful football tournament, but Fifa is satisfied that the country is capable and that preparations are proceeding smoothly. A recent Fifa inspection team found no cause for alarm. “For the World Cup we are all on track,” said Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke.

Green power too

In terms of power generation and transmission, customer contributions and demand side management, fans need not worry. And for those whose concerns include the environment, a certain amount of power supplied will be green.

Talks are already in progress to secure an extra 400MW of hydropower, primarily from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa, but also from Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

Johnny Dladla, MD of Eskom’s Project 2010 unit, said, “We are delighted with the level of co-operation we are receiving from our Sapp counterparts. This initiative confirms that the 2010 Fifa World Cup is truly and indeed an African event.”

Sapp chair Rhodnie Sisala added that the group confidently expected South Africans, the entire Southern African region and football fans from around the world to experience an unforgettable African World Cup.

Special planning

The agreement has been reached after several months of planning and negotiation, according to Eskom. It covers key areas such as adequate transmission capacity for the transfer of power to South Africa, preventative pre-event maintenance and cleaning, maximising plant production, energy efficiency initiatives and load curtailment during the events.

Individual commercial contracts are still to be concluded between Eskom and the other Sapp members. Dladla said that Eskom hoped to obtain an extra 500 to 1 000MW of electricity from Sapp.

Strategies discussed for 2010 include demand-side initiatives, which are techniques aimed at improving the use of electricity by consumers, and the implementation of plans for a constant use of electricity, thus avoiding the peak-time surge in demand that puts so much strain on the national grid.

Demand-side management also results in reduced environmental damage, as more efficient use of electricity means that less of it needs to be generated. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity generation saved at a power station, said Eskom, the environment is spared one kilogram of carbon dioxide.

Sapp members will be encouraged to produce less power during peak times and more during the quieter periods. While games are in progress, those Sapp members whose plants are idle may take them offline for planned maintenance.

Reliable and economical electricity

The Southern African Power Pool is a group of 11 countries within the Southern African Development Community that have come together with the aim of providing economical and reliable electricity to each of its members.

The group is made up of power producers in Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi, Angola, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Because resources are connected and pooled, some Sapp members have been able to postpone large capital outlays which would have been spent on building new plants. Interconnectivity between SADC countries is an important part of the Sapp strategy.

Some of the group’s major challenges include infrastructure limitations and lack of maintenance of existing infrastructure, limited funds, and insufficient generation as was seen in 2007 when Eskom was unable to meet the demand of South African consumers.

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