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5.CRITICAL COMMENT

Chapter 5 South Africas energy future on a knife/edge?

By: David Lipschitz

In 2015, Eskom was load shedding its customers. Eskom didn’t have enough electricity, so instead of allowing a grid meltdown, where the whole grid went down, Eskom did something they called “load shedding.” This means that for between two and four hours at a time, Eskom switched off parts of the national electricity grid, thus saving themselves major problems. They kept their power stations running as best they could and they simply switched off their clients.

T

he problems were caused by electricity growth exceeding supply of new power stations; by failures in the system; and by bad long term implementation plans. And this being switched off led Eskom’s clients to look for alternatives. Many of us remember the last time there were power failures, back in 2008 / 2009. The initial plan was to buy a generator. Generators are loud, smelly things, and they require maintenance, and most people have up to eight hours of fuel reserves. What if we had more than the expected downtime? We would run out of fuel. Our businesses wouldn’t be able to operate. We’d have major problems. The secondary plan was to look at alternatives. Could one make electricity on site? How much would it cost? When would I break even? Did it make sense? Should I wait it out? At what point would we be at Grid Parity? And could I look at being more efficient, thus, not needing as much electricity as before? Energy efficiency became the order of the day. Negawatts, i.e. Negative Watts, the cheapest form of needing less electricity. Many of us found that we could save up

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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY RESOURCE HANDBOOK

The Sustainable Energy Resource Handbook South Africa Volume 8  
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