Experts warn of ‘devastating’ load shedding schedule during lockdown
A government-backed team of experts (Sanedi) believe that load shedding is a real possibility during lockdown - and it would impact us worse than ever.
The South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) has issued a stark warning to both businesses and the public, who are being encouraged to scale back significantly on their electricity consumption. The government-backed energy experts fear a devastating wave of load shedding is on the cards – once we begin moving through the higher stages of lockdown.
Why load shedding could return with a vengeance this winter
Quite simply put, as more industries get the go-ahead to return to work in the next months, the more electricity will be guzzled across the country. Our economy has been shaky at the best of times in the past few years, and another round of prolonged load shedding would hurt harder than it did previously.
Eskom has failed to carry out key maintenance during this extended period of lockdown, too. Despite being classed as an essential workforce, barriers on trade have limited the energy utility from ordering desperately needed components from overseas. International consultants have also been banned from travelling to South Africa over health fears, and the delay could cost the state-owned business billions down the line.
Sanedi outline their load shedding concerns
But there’s not just a financial element at play here. Any unplanned power outages could wreak havoc with medical facilities trying to cope with this global health crisis. There are currently five stages of lockdown listed by the government, ranging from the strictest conditions at Level 5, down to the more lenient regulations of Level 1.
South Africa is likely to spend months in some form of lockdown, even if gentle restrictions are in place. Fluctuating rates of infection could see us move up or down a level, depending on the frequency of new cases and deaths. In regards to load shedding during this time, Sanedi list the following as their main concerns:
- The gradual relaxation of lockdown laws and the upcoming cold winter months will lead to an increase in energy consumption, straining the power grid.
- In South Africa, the lockdown has led to a drop of 30% in energy demand (which is about 7 500 MW a day).
- Mining and manufacturing industries account for 60% of national consumption: They have already resumed some operations, and businesses coming back online could compromise Eskom’s power capacity.
- Load shedding during lockdown “will have a devastating effect on both a fragile economy and our under-pressure health services”, such as hospitals and quarantine and isolation facilities.
There is something we can do
However, Sanedi feel that it’s possible for South Africa to avoid a disastrous set of power cuts – but everyone must play their part. The general public has already been asked to sacrifice so much when playing by the rules of lockdown. Now, citizens could be required to dramatically cut back on their electricity usage:
“We must at all costs avoid moving into another bout of load shedding which we experienced prior to lockdown. We therefore encourage all South African households and businesses to use energy wisely, to avoid unnecessary wastage of this valuable resource.”
“We urge people to switch-off non-essential appliances and to become more aware of how we use energy over the next few months. Where possible, energy-efficient practices must be implemented to lessen the strain and optimise usage.”Sanedi statement