Load shedding: How Cape Town residents are 'protected' from power cuts

If you're living in Cape Town and wondered why you're on Stage 1 load shedding while the rest of the country is on Stage 2, we've got the answer, from the City of Cape Town specifically. 


According to a statement by the City's Executive Mayor Dan Plato, Cape Town has an additional energy generation which can sometimes spare residents one level of load shedding. 

HOW IS THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN ABLE TO AVOID LOAD SHEDDING? 


Plato said through the generation of additional capacity using the City's Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant and other management interventions, the city is able to limit the impact on customers. 


"We will continue to do our best to protect our customers on the lowest stages of load shedding, being stages 1, 2 and 3, where possible," he said. 


"We will be the first metro and province to break the sole reliance on power from Eskom if we get the legal clarity required from National Government on our efforts to procure cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs)," he added.  


Plato said the City will continue to pursue avenues that will enable consumers to purchase renewable energy directly from IPPs to lessen the burden power cuts place not only on residents but businesses, too.

HOW DOES THE STEENBRAS STORAGE PLANT WORK? 


According to Plato, this is how residents in Cape Town are sometimes able to avoid load shedding: 

  1. Electricity generated during relatively low-cost off-peak periods is used to pump water from a lower to an upper storage reservoir. During periods of peak demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir, thereby generating electricity like a conventional hydroelectric power station;

  2. Hydroelectricity is produced using the gravitational force of falling or flowing water to power an electricity generator; and[*]The Western Cape does not have a big enough body of water to produce the amount of electricity we'd need to meet all of our power needs in Cape Town and surrounds, but we do have small hydro generators on schemes like the Steenbras scheme. This is why the City can often avoid load-shedding if it is on the lowest level and there is enough generation capacity, or can, where possible, remain on a lesser stage than Eskom has requested. 

The Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant was the first hydro-electric pumped storage scheme in Africa. Each of the station's four 45 000KW generator units acts as a pump-motor in one mode and a turbine-generator in the other.


Due to the City's proactive maintenance planning and management, the massive scheduled maintenance of the Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant, which included extensive and intricate underground work, concluded in time for the higher winter demand trends in South Africa. 


"I want to congratulate all involved in this maintenance project for their professionalism and efficiency and for simply getting the job done. The City has thus been able to protect its customers from load shedding to a substantial degree," added Plato. 

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