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

Cape Town – Useful loadshedding information sources

After I wrote this shocked (pun intended) piece about the shocking (pun intended) reaction to the loadshedding this week, and with the thought of a LoadsheddingBalls series still not completely discounted, I thought that the individuals involved might actually just need some help.

See, the information on loadshedding is out there. It’s just about knowing where to look. And with a situation that is constantly changing, social media is perfect for keeping up with the latest updates. This is a Cape Town-leaning list, and that’s for two reasons: firstly, the authorities in Cape Town are generally very good at sharing information on loadshedding, and secondly, I live in Cape Town, so I’ve found the best ways for me to keep up to date.

On Twitter:

The big cheese. Eskom themselves: @Eskom_SA. Love them or hate them (I know, I know), this is the twitter account that will tell you what is going on with loadshedding nationally.

The other big cheese. Helen Zille: @HelenZille. Love her or hate her… oh whatever, and yes, there’s a lot of other noise on this account, but HZ does often relay a useful synopsis for the day, e.g.:

Warning: may also contain politically volatile batshittery.

City of Cape Town official twitter accounts: @CityofCT and @CityofCTAlerts. These are regularly updated with information on loadshedding: what stage we’re on, which zones are due to be shod next and so on. They will also be my primary source for LoadsheddingBalls, because of the fantastic replies they generate.

There are other loadshedding accounts that have popped up, but I’ve found that they’re not always hugely reliable.

On Facebook:

The City of Cape Town official Facebook account is just a mirror of their twitter account. But it’s very good at keeping you up to date with the latest loadshedding news.

On the internet generally:

For loadshedding schedules and maps, you need look no further than this very site:

Until end January 2015
From February 1st 2015

and tie them in with the latest stage in the red box here.

For Eskom supplied areas, you need their official loadshedding page.

Now you know what I know. Forewarned is forearmed.

Loads of loadshedding coming

“We are likely to load shed on most days in the near future”

Yep. Here’s a slide from the Eskom briefing this morning. That legend up at the top reads as follows:

Green days: Adequate generation capacity available to meet demands and reserves.
Yellow days: Constrained generation capacity with sufficient supply to meet demands and reserves. Moderate probability of loadshedding.
Red days: Insufficient generation capacity unable to meet demands and reserves. High probability of loadshedding.

eskom

A rudimentary count from next Monday gives us 102 days of which 11 are green, 20 are yellow and 71 are red. That means that until the end of April, SA will have a high probability of loadshedding 70% of the time. Even more worrying for the economy is that there are only three working days which are not red, and none of those three are green.

This is summer, when demand is lower, meaning that in some ways, we’re getting off lightly. But there’s no indication that come May, some magic bullet will have solved everything. No quick fixes here.
So yes, we’re screwed whichever way you look at it. But I think the time for recriminations is done now (I actually think that the time for recriminations was done a long time ago). Spilt milk. This has happened, it’s how it’s dealt with now that matters.
And that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to help out. Switch off what you’re not using, use high-wattage equipment less and try to make some sort of difference.
Do your bit in trying to turn a red into a yellow or a yellow into a green.
It really can’t do any harm.

Just a reminder that you can view the Cape Town schedules here. These are due to change on the 1st February, and we’ll keep you updated when that happens.

Loadshedding Schedules – November 2014

Latest information and schedules for:

Areas directly supplied by Eskom  

Cape Town Loadshedding Region Map
Cape Town Loadshedding Schedule (from November 2014)

Ekurheleni Metro

Ethekwini Metro

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro

Tshwane