The ageing electrical infrastructure in South Africa highlights the need for constant monitoring and maintenance to ensure daily functioning, says electricity utility company South Power Maintenance business development executive Thamie Nyembe.
South Power Maintenance can provide services to assist municipalities in maintaining such infrastructure.
“Every piece of equipment has a life span and, in South Africa, money has not been spent to actually upgrade the substations,” he says.
Municipalities do not have adequate capacity to maintain the substations and without an adequate skills base, maintenance cannot be planned and implemented.
“All the underinvestment in maintenance has caught up with us, that's why we get so much load-shedding.”
Nyembe adds that the right people with proper skills sets, as well as adequate funds, will be required to deal with the issues that municipalities face.
Moreover, solutions like mobile substations, mobile feeder boards, substation maintenance and refurbishments are required.
South Power Maintenance assists municipalities and has been in business for over 20 years doing maintenance work on electrical infrastructure. “Our specialised expertise, quick response time and good relationships with suppliers sets us apart from the rest in assisting municipalities in extending the life of the ageing infrastructure,” says Nyembe.
“These municipalities engage with us whenever they have issues with the infrastructure,” explains Nyembe.
For example, when a fire broke out at the Lotus substation, in Gauteng, in January this year, South Power Maintenance was called in to help deal with the issue.
“We arrived on site and immediately put together a team of mv cable jointers, protection engineers, electricians for wire and test circuits, and project management, to resolve the problems,” says Nyembe.
The fire started on a Friday and, by Monday, the company managed to energize the substation, he adds.
This project involved sourcing out the necessary material for cable swinging, and implementing a new switch gear that South Power Maintenance and SKA Electric had been working on.
“This switch gear was not completed, so we ensured that it would be ready within a short period,” says Nyembe.
The medium-voltage,shielded solid-insulation SIRING 12 is a compact, intelligent alternate current metal-enclosed switchgear and control gear, he explains.
SIRING 12 is fully insulated, shielded, sealed and maintenance free, with a space saving of up to 40%.
“Our particular board has a 11 kV, 2 500 A, 25 kA specification, integrated instrument transformers and arc protection,” Nyembe adds.