What makes a winter cold front even worse? Eskom cuts the power, of course. Load shedding is in place as of noon Tuesday, and he’s likely to be with us for a while. The utility served to remind energy consumers that this course of action is necessary to avoid a power outage – but what does that mean exactly?
What is the difference between a load shedding and a power failure?
Load shedding is the term given to managed power outages implemented by Eskom, used to manage demand on a network that has been affected by technical issues. A blackout, however, is the unanticipated collapse of the entire national grid when demand far exceeds supply and overwhelms the infrastructure that Eskom has put in place.
A power failure is not necessarily another term for load shedding. Eskom describes the events as two totally different things.
“If preventive measures such as load shedding prove insufficient, the national grid will collapse. This is called a blackout. This is an unforeseen circumstance and therefore no announcement can be made in advance. Any national blackout would have “massive implications” for the country. ”
How would South Africa “go beyond” the load shedding?
Demand is expected to exceed available supply first. This is what often leads to load shedding. This causes equipment such as generators and transformers to be “overloaded” and, to avoid catastrophic failures, devices trip.
If supply decreases further and demand remains at high levels, we will see what is called a “cascade trigger”. This is where things like cables and switches become overloaded, bringing South Africa to the brink of a total blackout across the country. Once the grid reaches a certain point, it will completely collapse – plunging the country into absolute darkness.
What a large-scale blackout would mean for South Africa:
Have we ever been close to a “blackout”?
There have been a few tight calls: A series of power cuts in 2015 prompted Eskom to plan for the worst, but luckily their interventions were not necessary. In March 2019, a series of Stage 4 cuts pushed the company into very uncomfortable territory. Last Christmas, Eskom deployed Stage 6 load shedding – the worst ever in South Africa.
This current cycle of load shedding isn’t likely to lead to our first nationwide blackout – although to be honest that would be incredibly on the mark for 2020. Power outages will likely last a few days this week, but also far away. as we understand, the situation is not critical. Not yet anyway …