Will Load Shedding continue unabated in South Africa?

By Neil Vorster

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Will Load shedding continue in South Africa?

Load shedding has just won the run chase, its Game over! But will load shedding continue in South Africa, or get worse. And what can we do about it?

5 Reasons why loadshedding will continue.

In this article we will look at recent load shedding history, what the government is doing about it and what you can do about it. 

When considering whether  load shedding will continue, we have to consider the following 5 factors;

  1. A load shedding history in South Africa- 4 years of disaster.
  2. The ANC government's future plans?
  3. The 100 MW Mozambique Joke!
  4. Eskom - Lack of accountability
  5. Corruption

What you can do about load shedding.

  1. What solutions are there for South Africans?
  2. How affordable are the solutions?
  3. Is getting off the grid realistic?

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Accumulated Blackout time 2023

This Bussinesstech graph tracks the accumulated blackout time in South Africa for the last 4 years. It is a very good indication of how dire the circumstances are and how bad load shedding has become very quickly.

By the 9th of May, load shedding in 2023 had won the run chase, "with 30 overs remaining"!

By 9 May 2023, we had already caught up to the total blackout time for last year.

When comparing the line for 2020 and 2021, they look quite similar, but the writing was on the wall. 2020 scored a total of  5.2 days, and 2021 scored 7.4 days -That is 42% worse than the year before !!!!

The total days of blackout for 2022 was 34.56, that’s a whopping  4.6 times worse than 2021 !!

In 2023 we reached the 2022 total of 34.56 days by 9 May … its game over!  - Yes, load shedding will continue for the foreseeable future.

2. What has Government done and what are they planning to do about it?

A National State of Disaster was declared by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 9 February 2023. It remained in place for 2 months. 

Committees were set up, meetings were held, and a minister of electricity was appointed. 

To date, we have not seen any concrete benefits of this national state of disaster.

I am sure the tenderpreneurs clapped their hands in glee during the 2 month window of opportunity, as they could now milk the system under cover of the national emergency - with far fewer inconvenient checks and balances on "emergency" equipment acquisitions.

The National Energy Crisis Committee did not use this time to address  the massively disruptive and expensive cable theft problem. A simple clampdown on scrap metal dealers would have  stopped cable theft in its tracks.

In June 2023 load shedding eased off significantly, due to more power facilities coming back online, but unfortunately, that is a temporary respite according to Eskom.

load shedding future of south africa

Eskom temporary CEO, Mr Calib Cassim is losing sleep over this issue. 

He recently said we could slip into stage 8 load shedding at any moment.

All we need is another power generating facility to break down.

We run on a daily shortfall of generating capacity and therefore have zero spare capacity for planned maintenance - load shedding will continue with no end in sight!

No extra power generating capacity has been added, and the government seems to be doing everything in its power to add red tape as the courts back the Eskom monopoly [Eskom wins recent court battle against the small Free State town, Frankfort. ] in its efforts to stop the private sector from generating its own power.

Since we appointed an Electricity Minister, Mr Ramokgopa, earlier this year - apart from many media appearances, and earning a nice salary, he hasn’t managed to do much about the crisis.

The average capacity of Eskom is 3000 MW less that this time last year. 

3. The 100MW Mozambique Joke!

Recently in the news Mr Ramokgopa was seen shaking hands with his Mozambican counterpart to seal a deal whereby South Africa will be purchasing an additional 100 MW with immediate effect (that’s 0.1 gigawatt) building up to 1 gigawatt later in the year.

To put that into perspective, South Africa has a theoretical capacity of around 54 gigawatts but it is in poor condition, today (19 June 2023)  we only have 25 gigawatts available while today’s peak demand is 29 gigawatts.

This leaves a load shedding shortfall of 4 gigawatts today, so I am sorry to say  Mr Electricity Minister, the 0.1 Gigawatt you organised from our neighbour is not going to help very much!

100MW from Mozambique

4 Lack of accountability

The ANC Government simply blames Eskom for not planning properly, the public for using too much electricity. It does not hold the SAP accountable for stopping corruption and cable theft, and the "political hot potato"  - rampant township electricity theft,  continues unchecked.

Every year Eskom seems to supply less electricity and charge more for the service that is getting exponentially worse. They seem to rewarded for poor service rather than held accountable. 

The National Energy Regulator, NERSA granted Eskom a 18.65% price hike in January, and have now approved a 18.49% hike for municipalities.

These  increases for Eskom’s standard tariff customers will be effective from 1 April 2023 and the municipalities increase will apply from 1 July 2023.

5 Corruption

What is evident is that corruption and organised crime is rife, and the government, the SA Police and Eskom lack the will to do anything about it.

The National Energy Crisis Committee undertook amongst other things during the national state of disaster to "Fix Eskom" - with no clear indication of how? 

Committees were set up, a minister of electricity was appointed, but we have not seen any concrete benefits of this national state of disaster.

They did not  address a simple thing such as the cable theft problem - Although a simple clampdown on scrap metal dealers will stop cable theft in its tracks.

Will load shedding continue? 

The answer is a resounding, YES !

What is clear is that we are in the calm before the storm.

The government has run out of ideas, and Eskom's capacity decreasing every year.

Individual homeowners, and businessmen need to make sure life carries on. We need to aim at being independent of the power grid as soon as possible.

The solution for homeowners, businesses, farms, schools etc

Here is a 6 step model to get yourself entirely off the grid.

Each step is designed to build on each other enabling you to go as fast as your budget will allow.  

Step 1 – Keeping your essentials connected and online. 

Much of our work, study, internet and day to day communication requires WIFI internet connectivity, and step one is to secure your WIFI, and provide power to your home workstation though rolling blackouts.   

The affordable Power in a Box  home inverter for R 5999 will give your home office 4 or 5 hours of backup.

Step 2 – Sustained connectivity of your essentials during blackouts.

By adding 200 W Solar panels to your Power in a Box for an additional R3000 per panel, you can use the sun’s energy to power your home office.

In one of those extended 2 or 3 day power blackouts that are becoming all too common, your solar panels will power your office requirements during the day while they simultaneously charge your batteries and leave you with an additional 4 hours of backup -after the sun goes down !

Step 3 – Installed Home Inverter 

The next step would be to connect an inverter into your home grid, directly connected to your house DB board. Your appliances will then operate normally during load shedding events. While the power grid is on, your batteries will automatically recharge. Lithium batteries recharge very quickly, normally within about an hour, ready for the next blackout.  

 A medium sized home will use about 30 KWh per day, but most of that will be used by your geyser. The normal medium sized household consumption (excluding geyser) is aproximately 400W – 700W .

By installing a good quality inverter and battery in your house to power your essential appliance load of say 400W, you can ensure that life goes on pretty much normally during extended hours of load shedding.

A  5 KW inverter with a 3KWh to  5KWh lithium battery is a good place to start.

An appliance load of 400W for 10 hours of backup will require  400 X 10 = 4000 Wh or 4Kwh.  Lithium batteries allow you to use about 80% of the rated battery capacity,  so a 5KWh battery would suffice in this instance.

Your geyser would remain on the power grid, and would be warmed up only when the power grid is functioning. Heat will be stored up in your geyser for when you need it,  so your geyser would function as a “heat battery”.

A fully installed Home Inverter system  together with an Electrical Compliance Certificate (COC) will cost from R68000 – A COC is essential to make sure the installation is done properly and that the installation doesn’t nullify your home insurance policy.

Step 4 – Solar home system 

By adding solar panels to match your installed inverter you can start converting the sun’s energy into useful electricity to run your home.

An added benefit is the huge government incentives designed to encourage the public to invest in renewable energy supplies. Until 1 March 2024, 25% of the cost of your solar panels can be claimed as a tax rebate. 

8 X 550 W Solar panels should provide you with approximately  3000 Watts for 6 hours per day in sunny conditions. That equates to about 18 KWh per day, which is more than the requirements to run the essential appliances of a medium sized home. ( eg  500 W appliance load for 24 hours = 12KWh per day )

Cost of installation of solar panels, inverters and Lithium batteries varies dramatically dependent on the quality of equipment you install and your individual requirements, but you can expect to start at around R 100 000. 

A power audit will establish your individual needs. [Click here to enquire for a system that most resembles your requirements and receive a free power audit.]

Step 5 OFF THE GRID with a Solar System plus Geyser Heat Pump 

If your solar system is well balanced with your current essential appliance load, then you only have to add additional solar power to cover the non essentials like pool pumps and geysers. 

A normal 150 to 200 L geyser uses 9KWh to heat your geyser. It will use about  3KW for 3 hours to heat up your geyser from cold to full temperature of around 65 degrees. [3KW X 3hrs = 9KWh] 

A heat pump works on the same principal as an airconditioner. An air conditioner extracts heat from inside and transfers it outside into the atmosphere.  A heat pump extracts heat from the air outside and transfers it to your geyser.  

A heat pump will cost you R25000 installed and will typically only use 1KW for 3 hours, or 3KWh  per day  to keep you in hot water. 

Your pool pump will use about 1KW and can be set to run during sunlit hours. 2 or 3 extra 500W panels will cover the pool pump load easily.  

Step 6 Completely off the power grid

Completely off the grid is very expensive to achieve as you need to not only provide enough solar for daily consumption and keep your batteries 100%  topped up, but you need to have reserve battery capacity to last during cloudy rainy weather.

Depending on your location, you may have to allow for up to 7 days "rainy day" extra battery capacity or add a diesel/petrol generator to your system.

Power in a Box have an OFF THE GRID solution  starting at around R250 000 

Take back the power!

This article is to be seen as a general guide only, a starting point to help you get your head around the requirements, and costs involved of getting off the power grid and taking back control of your life.

Every household would require a power audit to establish your power requirements and then a system that can grow incrementally can be designed to suit your power needs.

Enquire Online Now

Click here to inquire further and receive a free power audit for your home, office, factory or farm

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About the author

Property Investment Coach
Off The Grid Power consultant
BSc Eng - (Wits) 1985

Neil Vorster

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