Cape Town Loadshedding 2018

I would really rather not be writing this one.

Yep. Loadshedding is back. Not wet coal or no coal or breakdowns or corruption this time. This is strike action, although some believe it should be called something entirely different:

Because yes, this electricity shortage is because the workers aren’t happy about not getting a pay rise this year. But whatever terminology you wish to use, it’s the everyday people of the country that will suffer.

Which brings me to my next point: if you are in Cape Town, when might you be likely to suffer?

Here’s the information you need, in handy PDF form.

To work out when you might expect the lights to go out. And the TV, during the World Cup. Or the rugby, you smarmy egg-chasers. Yeah, that grin disappeared pretty quickly, didn’t it?

Using the schedule isn’t exactly rocket surgery. Use the map to find the numbered area in which you live or work (or intend to watch the sport), then match the date on the timetable below to see when you can expect the misery of a rolling blackout.

If you’re outside any of the gaily coloured areas on the map, then you need to go to the Eskom website to get your schedule.

Koeberg go woo-woo

Just a reminder that Koeberg Power Station will be conducting a full volume test of its siren and public announcement system between 10:00 & 12:00 today.

Eskom’s Khulu Phasiwe stated that testing of the siren and PA system is done once a year as part of Koeberg’s emergency preparedness, in line with its licensing conditions.

Residents within 16km of the power station have already been notified, and need not panic as this is only a test.

However, if past tests are anything to go by, it’s likely that the sirens will be more effective than the notifications, so you can help by sharing the link to this post all over the Melkbos and (Uns)Table View Facebook groups.

Although, why you would be in those groups is a bit beyond me.

Eskom: Good news?

On fairly regular occasions on this blog, we have taken the pi… we have taken the mickey out of state-owned electricity generating behemoth, Eskom. You can look here for most all of those posts.

But, credit where it is due, it does seem like Brian Molefe has begun some sort of turnaround at the much maligned power utility. There was a very positive – if characteristically honest – press conference this morning, at which these lines were uttered:

We don’t foresee load-shedding for the year unless something goes terribly wrong, but it is still conceivable because we are not out of the woods yet.

Fair enough – and they’ve done well right over summer (the last loadshedding was on 14th September 2015), so who’s to say that it might not continue through winter too – especially with new projects coming online as well:

The successful synchronisation of unit three of the R25bn Ingula hydro pump storage scheme to the grid last week will add 333MW, reducing pressure on the grid and allowing Eskom to undertake its maintenance programme.

Ingula is basically a huge version of the Steenbras pumped-storage scheme, which saved Cape Town from loadshedding on several occasions last winter.
In fact, the future’s so bright, we may have to wear some sort of eye protection:

Mr Molefe said Eskom was working very hard to conclude its construction of the Medupe and Kusile power stations ahead of target. The two power stations and Ingula will add about 11,000MW to the grid on completion of them all in about five years’ time.
On completion, he said, SA would have enough electricity for economic growth and perhaps even a surplus to sell to its neighbours.

A surplus? Blimey.

Of course, there are still uncertainties – like the fact that there’s not ever so much water to run through the Ingula turbines at the moment, and like the vicious circle of the crappy economy caused by the shortage of electricity meaning that Eskom will have to pay more for its loans, meaning that prices will have to go up (again) or less maintenance and building will be possible.

But generally, better – right?

UPDATE: Here’s an alternative view though:

The improved outlook is less about what the state power utility is doing and more to do with an economic slowdown.

OK, that’s not great. But still… no loadshedding, right? #GlassHalfFull

June loadshedding rumours aren’t true

Eskom has let us know that the message spreading on social media (basically Facebook), that there will be twice daily routine loadshedding from next week, isn’t true:

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Several keyboard warriors individuals replied to these tweets with swearing and insults, the combination of which cut the nation’s power usage by 10% and assisted hugely with hastening the completion of the Medupi Power Station, thus negating the need for any loadshedding whatsoever.

Jokes. It didn’t really. Angrily typing some crap on your keyboard and sending it to a public relations lady sitting at a keyboard somewhere else doesn’t actually save electricity or speed up infrastructure provision.

But do keep trying, won’t you? It’s such fun to watch.

World’s Biggest Windmill

Not really, but still – nice story: they’ve put a couple of VAWTs on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Well, they couldn’t really put them on the Eiffel Tower anywhere else, could they?

If you’ve ever seen the Eiffel Tower in real life, you’ll know that it’s not small. Here it is with its head in the clouds in the height of summer, 2012 with the boy wonder in the foreground, and a handy indicator of where the turbines have been fitted just above the 2eme étage:

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Amazingly, despite their hugely elevated position, they’re not even at the height of the wind turbines in Caledon just up the road from Cape Town. Suddenly, Gustav’s big project doesn’t seem quite so huge. Or maybe wind turbines are just generally horribly invasive. Hey, you decide.

The 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity they’ll produce each year is about enough to self-sustain the commercial section on the tower’s first floor, but not much else.

Look, it’s something. And I do understand that this is really all just about visibility. To be honest, short of putting a set of huge blades on the top of the tower itself, it’s probably about as good as it’s going to get. Especially in a country which produces around 80% of its electricity from nuclear. But while wind is good because it’s renewable, it’s may not be quite as green as you think. Here’s an interesting “back-of-the-envelope calculation” by Popular Science magazine on which are the nastiest forms of electricity generation if you happen to be, say… a bird (as one of the endangered Blue Cranes near Caledon might self-identify, for example).

bird-deaths-per-1000mwh

You can read more here, but the gist of it is that Coal is downright evil (we knew this), solar plants fry birds:

Rewire reports that during the test, operators fired up a third of the 110-megawatt facility’s mirrors, concentrating sunlight on a spot 1,200 feet off the ground. Over a six-hour period, biologists counted 130 “streamers,” or trails of smoke and water left behind as birds ignited and plummeted to their deaths. Rewire’s anonymous source said that at least one of the birds “turned white hot and vaporized completely.”

and we already knew that wind turbines kill birds and bats.

Sadly, despite our current (no pun intended) electricity woes, it seems like nuclear isn’t the er… cleanest option for SA either (although not necessarily for environmental reasons).

So we have the choice of evil coal (which we’re going to use), the horribly inefficient and not-ever-so-nice-after-all solar and wind, or the allegedly dangerously corrupt nuclear.

Or we could do fracking… Now there’s a good idea.

More Parisian flickritude