What Caused Load Shedding & Using UPS Power as a Fix
Load shedding has become a frequent, unwelcome guest in the lives of South Africans, disrupting daily routines and business operations. While the Rugby World Cup gave us a bit of a reprieve, as soon as the confetti had fallen on the celebratory field, so to speak, the darkness returned.
But why is load shedding such a big problem in our country. Why is it happening, and how can UPS make a difference for your day-today? This blog aims to unpack the causes of load shedding and introduce Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems as a viable solution to mitigate its impact.
What is Load Shedding?
Load shedding is the act of lessening the load on something—in this context, it’s about reducing the electricity supply need by enacting intentional electricity outages. In a South African context, load shedding is Eskom’s National Control Centre instructing municipalities to reduce need for energy from the grid according to prescribed stages. The length of a shed depends on the stage and the municipality/location.
The goal of this practise is to lessen the load, or the electricity supply need and demand, on the national grid.
What Are the Stages of Load Shedding?
There are essentially eight stages of load shedding (although the idea of more has been bandied about). Each one aligns with the number of megawatts (MW) that need to be shed. Stage 1 sheds 1000MW, stage 2 sheds 2000MW, stage 3 sheds 3000MW—and so on. The higher the stage, the more frequent and longer the power outages are.
Why is Load Shedding Happening?
There are a wide range of contributing factors, but at the core of South Africa’s load shedding problem is the state of Eskom, the main power utility. It comes down to the fact that there simply isn’t enough supply of energy nationally to meet the demand. Eskom’s challenges are multi-layered, stemming from ageing infrastructure, maintenance neglect, and unfortunately, deliberate acts of sabotage that compound the utility’s ability to provide a stable energy supply.
For instance, a simple act of unscrewing a small component at a coal-fired power station led to a turbine halting abruptly. This event is a snapshot of the broader issues plaguing the power utility, ranging from internal corruption to extensive damage of energy infrastructure, all contributing to the unstable power conditions that result in load shedding.
Contributors to the Load Shedding Problem
Unplanned Maintenance on Old Stations
Due to their age and a lack of prior maintenance, some of Eskom’s coal-fired power plants undergo unplanned maintenance regularly.
New Stations Have Issues
There are two newish power stations that have been built in recent years—Medupi and Kusile—but these have faced challenges in bringing units online.
When it rains, wet coal is often the reason provided for load shedding at higher stages.
The Cost of Corruption and Sabotage
The situation is further exacerbated by criminal activities and political dynamics that directly interfere with Eskom’s operations. The country’s energy utility is not just battling operational inefficiencies but is also contending with theft and corruption, which siphon off funds and resources, crippling its capacity to provide continuous electricity. Such activities not only threaten the provision of electricity, but also hinder the country’s progress toward cleaner, renewable energy sources.
The UPS Solution
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems are like lifeboats for your electrical equipment during power outages. They give you emergency power so that your important devices can keep running even when the electricity supply is cut off. A UPS provides emergency power when the main supply fails, ensuring that connected devices continue to operate for at least a short period. For businesses and critical applications, this means the difference between operational continuity and costly downtime.
Essential Energy Protection with UPS
A UPS system offers essential power protection, safeguarding sensitive electrical equipment from the harshest power conditions caused by load shedding. It’s not just about keeping the lights on when the incoming utility power drops, but also protecting your electronic devices from potential damage due to surges or outages.
The Benefits of Battery Backup Power
Incorporating battery backups within UPS systems extends the resilience of your electricity supply. With advancements in battery life and technology, such as lithium-ion batteries, UPS systems can offer longer backup times, ensuring your operations can continue even during extended periods of load shedding. So, you get voltage stabilization that protects the longevity of your electronic devices, but you also get uninterrupted electricity to enable the continuity of your operations.
Why Choose PHD?
We specialise in providing industry-leading solutions tailored to South Africa’s unique energy challenges. We can help you find UPS systems designed to offer robust protection for your electronic equipment, efficient supply, and flexible operating modes to suit various requirements, from home offices to large industrial applications.
Our offerings include highly efficient 3-phase power protection for large-scale needs and single-phase solutions for smaller setups. With features like scalable runtime options and sophisticated energy storage solutions, we can help ensure that your power supply is safeguarded against even the most unstable power conditions.
How to Get Energy Security
We understand that uninterrupted power is not just a convenience but a necessity for maintaining business critical operations and ensuring business continuity. Don’t let load shedding put a damper on your productivity and peace of mind. With us, load shedding doesn’t have to mean lights out for your business or home.
Explore PHD Powerhouse’s wide range of UPS systems and find the perfect match for your needs. Get in touch with us for a tailored solution that keeps you powered through the darkest of times.