How a business can survive once SA hits stage 8 load shedding

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  • Date: 15 July 2022

The big question every business is asking: How will my company survive when it gets to stage 8 load shedding? Here are 10 solutions you might not have known about to soften the blow from load shedding.

South Africa’s electricity provider, Eskom, apologised for the latest cases of load shedding. The company said that the power outages may be ramped up at any short notice, but it’s the last resort. The electricity provider stated that it was due to the continued shortage of generation capacity, sabotage, and the lack of money to maintain the design latent defects.

Two cables were recently disconnected, one at the Hendrina power station and another at the Matla power plant in Mpumalanga. The Medupi power station in Limpopo and the Kusile power station in Witbank have not been performing in line with the design specifications and are in need of maintenance. South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, allegedly blamed the people who work at the power plants for the uprise in load shedding and mentioned the power utility is unreliable and unpredictable because its power stations have been run for over 10 years. Due to this, South Africans have to sit through another week of load shedding.

Eskom had to resort to the burning of diesel to maintain the upkeep of the struggling power plants. But this is a way more costly alternative. The electricity provider stated that it spends R1 million per hour on a single open gas turbine to produce power. Eskom also mentioned that they should actually preserve their diesel stocks to continue to keep their lights on. Additionally, Eskom said that they will be expecting a new stock of diesel to arrive, in the near future, to take the edge off of the pressure of the already burned power grid. To relieve the pain of waiting for the new diesel stock, Eskom implemented load shedding to stage 4.

Stage 4 load shedding means that it allows for up to 4000 MW of the national load to be shed. This means that you will be scheduled to have load shedding 12 times over a four-day period, or 12 times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

According to our state electricity provider, they will need R594 million to fix the design flaws and maintenance of their R135 billion Medupi power station. This amount is on top of the big amount of R2.5 billion that is needed to fix unit 4 of the power plant that was damaged in an explosion in 2021, the paper reported. Eskom also mentioned that they need 3,405MW for planned maintenance and an additional 15,534MW of the capacity is unavailable due to breakdowns.

Independent energy analyst, Mike Rossouw, warned us that our country can see stage 8 load shedding sooner than later due to the power station breakdowns occurring so frequently that Eskom, themselves, will be unable to predict the energy available for the few hours and days ahead. This means that consumers will sit without electricity for 12 hours a day or 48 hours over a four-day period.

“The current energy availability factor for the entire fleet is probably 50% or less. Maintenance hardly gets to 10% maybe 7%, and breakdowns account for 20% or more. So, the breakdowns are more than double the maintenance. There is no sign of recovery. This year load shedding is worse than it’s ever been, and Eskom has lost control,” Mike Rossouw said.

Professor Samson Mamphweli, another independent energy analyst told ENCA: “For each stage of load shedding, we lose R500 million to the economy (during the week). This is about 3% of GDP over a year.”

The electricity demand has been higher than even Eskom, themselves, expected and this paints a worrying picture.

“We have a power system that breaks down, and it’s very unpredictable at the current moment. These breakdowns are anything from trips to boiler breakdowns,” Professor Samson Mamphweli added.

Here are 10 solutions to combat load shedding:

Solar panels:

Your company can overcome the struggle of load shedding by getting solar panels. Yes, its cost is fairly high when you install it, but it is a renewable energy source and can be used all over the world as long as you have sunlight. In South Africa, we are fortunate enough to have lots of sunlight, so this will truly be an investment. It can also reduce your energy bill and how much you save will be dependent on the size of the panel, and your heat or energy usage. If you have commercial solar panels for your business, it can have huge benefits because it will cover a large percentage of the energy bills.

Gas Stoves:

If you work in the restaurant industry it will be best to install a gas stove. Gas Stoves can save up to 30% in energy costs. The stove and the oven will also heat up faster and it’s much more versatile because you can fit almost every pot or pan on the stovetop. The temperature will be easier to control, and the stovetops will be easier to clean.

Get a Vacuum Flask also known as a Thermos:

If you work in an office and feel like a gas stove will be a bit much, buy a vacuum flask. A vacuum flask is a bottle that keeps the temperature of the liquid inside it the same over a long period of time. You can boil the kettle right before the power outage and pour the water into the thermos. This will keep the water boiled for the length of the power outage. Your employees or colleagues will still be able to make themselves coffee during this struggling time.

Battery-operated lights:

If you work at night or in a dark place where the lights always need to be kept on, get battery-operated lights for load shedding. This will be much safer than candles and will last way longer. If it’s a LED battery-operated light, it will be brighter than the little light a candle can provide.

Generator:

This is also an expensive alternative, but depending on your budget and needs, it can be able to power your whole workplace, or you can get a smaller one just to keep the computers or refrigerators, for example, up and running.

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS):

Depending on the size of the UPS’s battery, you can get one to power your electronic items for up to 8 hours. The only setback is that it needs to be charged before you can use it and if it’s not fully charged, it will run out of battery earlier than you expected.

Know the schedule:

Nowadays, you can get the load shedding schedules for your area on apps like EskomSePush, LightsOut, Load Shedding Notifier, and WhatsUp Eskom to name a few. If you know when it will be load shedding, you can easily work a way around it.

Consider a co-working space:

A co-working space is a workspace rented by anyone that needs an office for a short period. If you are a small business, this may be an added expense, but by getting a desk or desks in a shared office environment, you can make up for the productivity that would have been lost due to load shedding.

Think of an alternative time schedule:

By being more flexible and considering a different working schedule, you can work around the hours of load shedding. If you work in an office, you can also try to work the load shedding hours at home if your house is on a different time schedule for load shedding.

Unplug or switch off your electronic devices or get Business Interruption Insurance:

Before load shedding hits, make sure you unplug or switch off all your electronic devices such as televisions, refrigerators, or computers. By doing this you can prevent the inner mechanisms from being destroyed. The damage can be caused when the electricity comes back on because the sudden strong surge of electricity can cause the inner mechanisms to be destroyed. Leave a light plugged in and switched on so that you can know when the power turns back on.

You can also get Business Interruption Insurance; this is an additional safeguard for the financial loss your business can incur. It can be a costly cover, but it’s more protection for yourself and your business.

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