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What Is Load Shedding & Why We Need It

13 December 2019 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Constructive Criticism

What is electrical load shedding

It's a term that has been on every South African's lips these days, but hardly anyone understands the reasons and dynamics behind the dreaded term known as "Load Shedding". South African citizens wait in baited breathe for load shedding schedules from the national energy service provider and now have to plan their lives around this scheduled downtime.

The lack of energy production from Eskom and the national grid has forced the supplier to become creative with its supply to avoid a national blackout What exactly is load shedding?

Loadshedding is the deliberate shutdown of electric power in part or parts of a power-distribution system, generally to prevent the failure of the entire system when the demand strains the capacity of the system.

Eskom's, South Africa's primary electricity supplier has a mandate to ensure the security of supply to service the South African economy and society.

Instead of running the grid into a complete blackout Eskom strategically shut off specific regions of the country in a bid to shed demand and maintain a manageable supply for the country.

The management of electricity supply becomes tricky as demand for energy is not consistent because of:

  • peak periods when demand is higher
  • and continuous growth in the number of customers requiring electricity services.

What does load shedding mean?

Load shedding means that the power system requires constant and prudent management of supply to meet demand but, today, Eskom faces the challenge of a constrained power system that will affect us until substantial new power capacity is available. In the meantime, to meet demand, our older power stations and infrastructure are being used to full capacity.

Load shedding, or load reduction, is done countrywide as a controlled option to respond to unplanned events to protect the electricity power system from a total blackout.

Many countries and cities in other parts of the world have experienced complete blackouts. To re-start their system, a countries national grid can tap into a power system from a neighbouring country. This reboot can take a few hours, days or even up to two weeks to restore full power, which would have a severe impact on our country.

This is the reason why we use load shedding, or load reduction, to effectively manage our power system and assist in protecting it from such an event.

What are the load shedding stages?

Eskom is constantly trying to match the supply and demand of electricity to allow optimum output and to do so will need to shed a certain amount of demand to meet its availability. The changing demand shedding is known as stages with load shedding now having up to eight stages.

Stage 1:

Requires the least amount of load-shedding (up to 1,000 MW) and can be implemented three times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or three times over an eight-day period for 4 hours at a time.

Stage 2:

Will double the frequency of Stage 1, which means you will be scheduled for load-shedding six times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or six times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

Stage 3:

Will increase the frequency of Stage 2 by 50 percent, which means you will be scheduled for load-shedding nine times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or nine times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

Stage 4:

Will double the frequency of Stage 2, which means you will be scheduled for load-shedding 12 times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

Stage 5:

Stage 5 will see Eskom shed 5000 MW

Stage 6:

Stage 6 will see Eskom shed 6000 MW

Stage 7:

Stage 7 will see Eskom shed 7000 MW

Stage 8:

Stage 8 will see Eskom shed 8000 MW and would double the power cut frequency of stage 4. This means South Africans would have electricity for 50% of the day or 12 hours. 

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Tags: Load Shedding , Eskom

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