Sep 21, 2012
‘Severely underused’ standby generators could mitigate power shortages – industry executiveBack
Construction|Africa|Carbon & Energy Africa GM Denis|CoAL|Cogeneration|Consulting|Diesel|Engineering|Eskom|Flow|Gas|Generator|Generators|Power|Public Enterprises|Safety|Turbines|Waste|Africa|South Africa|Cogeneration|Electricity Supply|Electricity Tariffs|Energy|Equipment|Flow|Gas Turbines|Lowest Electricity Tariffs|Services|Cogeneration|Malusi Gigaba|Turbines|Van Es|Waste|Diesel
© Reuse this
While the cost of running generators, especially those fuelled by diesel, is signifi- cantly higher than simply relying on the national grid, the costs of downtime owing to power failures can be even higher.
“Everybody would be running their diesel generators if it wasn’t more expensive than Eskom’s tariffs, says Van Es, adding that South Africa enjoys some of the lowest electricity tariffs in the world.
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba reiterated this at a press conference in March, saying that despite Eskom’s tariff increases over recent years, South Africa’s electricity tariffs remained among the lowest in the world.
Van Es points out, however, that major businesses, banks and hospitals have had to invest in generators to offset the damaging effects of unexpected outages.
He adds that, despite the cost of running generators, there are thousands of privately owned standby generators in South Africa not connected to the national grid. “These generators are only used sporadically, are essentially collecting dust and will only be used if there is a blackout some day.”
Van Es believes these generators are severely underused assets and that they hold significant potential to form part of a national demand management programme.
“Shouldn’t we consider ways of bringing these generators onto the grid? This would save government hundreds of millions of rands on the construction of additional gas turbines that would be used during peak consumption times,” he says.
Van Es points out that paying people for their generators’ operating costs and, thereby, contributing towards capital costs would be more cost effective for government than constructing new gas turbines. Moreover, the generators already exist. “All we need is a contractual and financial framework,” he says.
Van Es believes that using existing standby generators will significantly reduce the load on the grid but acknowledges that there are safety concerns over personnel working on lines that may be energised from both directions and the quality of supply from small generators.
His solution is to remove the load from the grid, replacing the supply with an on-site generator. “The circuits receiving their supply from the grid are made to be physically separate from the grid at the time of the switchover, thus removing the signifi- cant need to consider safety and quality issues with respect to the grid.”
Van Es envisages the possible use of standby generators as a demand-response option. “The intention is to operate the generators in times of need, either when there is insufficient supply or when a network constraint arises,” he says.
In 2007, the State-owned power utility indicated that electricity supply would remain tight for the next five to eight years.
“The Medupi and Kusile power stations – coal-fired power stations that run all day – will account for the baseload once [they have been] completed. But to deal with the peaks, more agile equipment is needed – equipment that can speed up and slow down quickly when demand hits unexpected peaks,” says Van Es.
He notes that Eskom’s gas turbines can warm up and cool down significantly faster than coal-powered stations but the fuel for those turbines could cost the same as the diesel used to fuel generators.
Van Es states that South Africans have become too reliant on Eskom to provide a constant flow of electricity at a cheap price.
“This is the wrong approach. Each citizen should be looking after his or her own interests. Industry, in particular, would be served best if it were less dependent on an outside electricity supplier.”
This would also require industry to scrutinise its own energy consumption and find ways to reduce this load by using energy efficient processes, such as cogeneration.
“Businesses need to look at what they are throwing away – waste that could contain useful energy and that could be converted at their business sites and fed back into the electricity supply.”
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Electricity News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Lifting, transporting, installing and ballasting solutions provider Ale has expanded its global fleet of trailers and invested in the latest range of widening trailers that can be mechanically widened from 3 m to the desired width for any project. Ale ordered 48 axle...
The market for the BMW 7 Series in South Africa differs quite significantly from the rest of the world. China, the US and the Middle East almost exclusively buy the long-wheel-base version, using the German manufacturer’s luxury high-end sedan as a chaffeur-driven...
January new-vehicle sales fell by 6.9%, to 48 615 units, compared with the same month last year. Statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry show that the domestic new passenger-car market declined by 6.1%, to 34 936 units, compared with 12 months ago.
Information technology (IT) equipment and infrastructure multinational Dell is providing open infrastructure systems for clients so that they can use any systems, including innovative new systems, that suit their business needs, says Dell Europe, Middle East and...
South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group, Denel, has set up another international partnership, based in Hong Kong. This new subsidiary is Denel Asia and it is a joint venture (JV) with South African private sector company VR Laser.