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Found on Twitter: Eskom is loadshedding power during daytime, in a sunny country...

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With the recent failures, then suddenly they are all gone. I sat wondering, thinking back.

If memory serves me correct, Cape Town was the 1st to have rolling blackouts. There where some jokes about the coming around at the time. Long while later senior ANC members in Jhb was having rolling blackouts. Now it became serious!

Then one day, all gone, sorted ... UPS and solar sales stopped like running into a concrete wall.

But the damage was done, small business where out of business, SA lost trillions of rands, not to mention State Capture.

So I wondered, what is really going on?
We have the politics, newspapers, our personal opinions and sometimes opinions from inside Eskom.
Then we have mines with coal but no Eskom collecting the coal it is said.

Is it a simple case of failing to forward plan is planning to fail due to sheer incompetence - so we are actually on the "Titanic", sinking having hit the iceberg, the iceberg already melted due to global warming?
Or ...
Financial Power struggles (pun intended) to keep the workers in line - read Unions - warning of more job losses?
Or ...
Are select "members" in charge playing with the switches to remind us not tot squeal too hard about the next round of proposed increases, to skim more off the top?

Whatever the reasons, we are not alone with the problem of national grids failing. The problem across the world is age. We need new grids, decentralized grids.

So then I thought, this article CocT to Ditch Eskom is actually making me think that we, the people, must maybe stand up and make our voices heard, install solar on every house and feed business with that power during the day. As I suggested to CoCT, give me a bi-directional meter, waive the daily charges, by giving me a minimum amount of KwH per annum that I must feed back that they can use as they see fit. I then use the grid as a battery.

And what @phil.g00 says about the Rules and Regs, the double interpretation of it all, deal with that at the same time.

Start building a decentralized grid in the Western Cape.

Evening power peaks, Steenbras dam is there, Koeberg, invest more time and effort and get more power sources, reduce consumption like we did with water, and take CoCT OFF Eskom's grid.

We are being clobbered left right and center, it is time to say ENOUGH!

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2 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

With the recent failures, then suddenly they are all gone. I sat wondering, thinking back.

Stations that were out for maintenance came back. Simple as that really. Still knife-edge stuff. Cyril says no load-shedding over Christmas. I kinda sorta think that is silly. Rather have some mild load-shedding now and do maintenance over these two weeks. Well... I'd hate to be that guy at Eskom who gets no leave this year because of that, so maybe this is a silly suggestion, but the point is that I'd much rather be in the dark over the holidays than start the new year with the same nonsense we ended the old one with (which is just about unavoidable anyway).

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14 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Simple as that really. Still knife-edge stuff.

Yes, I do take that as yet another reason, even when they said the maintenance is the new drive few years back, yet they spent monies like no tomorrow, more and more staff, and yet here we are again, on the knife's edge.

I do not believe the maintenance, keeping the old stations going with Me-dupe-you and Kusile STILL not done, is the solution without a serious amount of cash AND driven, committed knowledgeable people, to do it all right.

We have a ailing and failing system, boatloads of monies spent already and still being spent, asking for more, into a bottomless pit to keep us on the knifes edge ... and knifes tend to cut.

We don't have the skilled ou-toppies, we don't have the cash, people cannot absorb more increases ... we are sinking, one outage after another.

Being on the knifes edge, all that is needed is "one lapse of concentration" and the grid goes over the limit, blows a bunch of crucial huge transformers, which can take months, years to replace / repair.

Or, we hop along for the next decade ... 

Can this be really fixed?
Or are we on the downhill, with no brakes, and that dip is coming up pretty fast?

Edited by Guest

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How quickly politicians distance themselves from the ESKOM engine room.

The same engine they have populated for over 15 years.

I don't wanted get started on past mistakes, rather solutions.

With particular reference to solar, it should not be seen as problem, but a massive opportunity.

Where I live you can forget about planning permission if you are a building developer and don't include solar on each semi-D.

And where I live, we get less than half of sunny South Africa's sun.

I don't know Australia, but it seems they've got their act together as well.

I can't help thinking, of what would be achieved, with subsidies, feed-in tarrifs, technical advice and genuine political will.

It is my opinion, ESKOM/City councils could've contributed more MW in the same time frame and at a fraction of the cost of Medupi and Kusile,

if they had adopted the mantra that where there was a roof there should be panels.

Truly, distributed generation would relieve pressures on the grid.

What is sadly lacking in the SA's power system is a power stage capability. Think about what could be achieved collectively in terms of battery storage on a national level.

A bit of economic incentive, foresight and political will and domestic solar could be the saving grace of ESKOM, and by extension SA.

 

 

Edited by phil.g00

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That a solution is possible, learning from the States and Europe, most definitely.

18 hours ago, phil.g00 said:

... political will ...

The one and only problem, coupled with "greed" (read bribes) that I, in my heart and soul, don't believe we can achieve that in SA soon.

There is way to many other distractions. 

I'm just wondering that by the time Eskom becomes the next issue to deal with, that it would be too little too late.

Like the water fiasco in Cape Town.

 

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On 2018/12/16 at 7:28 PM, phil.g00 said:

How quickly politicians distance themselves from the ESKOM engine room.

On 2018/12/16 at 6:13 PM, plonkster said:

Stations that were out for maintenance came back.

On 2018/12/16 at 6:25 PM, The Terrible Triplett said:

... a serious amount of cash AND driven, committed knowledgeable people, to do it all right.

We know of the cash crisis, and now I quote Gordhan:
"Eskom needs to augment its engineering skills urgently as task team finds 40% of technical breakdowns due to 'human factor'."
"He said good people had been lost and incompetent people put in their place. This had happened, for instance, at Eskom power stations."

And then there is this titbit. I thought, ok, tail wagging the dog here? 
"The National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the National Union of Mineworkers, two of the biggest unions at the power utility, have threatened to strike if the split goes ahead."
The Unions do know the majority of Eskom's income can also "strike" by being "forced" by Union related power failures ... 
Unity creates power ... can go two ways.

And when Gordhan said: "Whether it is deliberate human factor or accidental human factor is open to debate."
Debate? Clever Mr Gordhan, clever. We all know one can just ask the experienced people whom have left in the last 20+ years, people who where not allowed to train the next generation, on why they left .... o wait, we cannot because (fill in your reason here) __________________________________________

The above points come from here: Eskom’s future needs to be decided within a month, says Pravin Gordhan

If I was a betting man, I would bet nothing will really change in a month.
Eskom's production will slowly drop lower than the current 74%, because it will take YEARS and
a serious amount of cash AND driven, committed knowledgeable people coupled with the political willpower to fix it once and for all.

We don't have the cash and one cannot train new people up "quickly". Takes years and years of training and on-the-job experience to become proficient at running a utility. Ask any Eskom engineer and linesmen.

On the positive side, I have been known to be wrong.

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1 hour ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Whether it is deliberate human factor or accidental human factor is open to debate

That's an euphemism. In Namibia, you will say "this remains a challenge", though what you mean in reality is "these idiots are totally incompetent" 😉

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Problems and their solutions have to put into a realistic context.

By realistic, I mean realistic in terms of time and available money.

While I agree ESKOM has a strategic long-term problems, it is an immediate and cheap solution they need right now.

Not an expensive strategic long-term one.

It will make no difference if the patient dies before the hospital is built.

They need to buy time to heal.

Edited by phil.g00

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7 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

While I agree ESKOM has a strategic long-term problems, it is an immediate and cheap solution they need right now.

Right. One of the best articles I read about this -- an opinion piece that I cannot even remember the author of -- argued during the previous power crisis that what we ought to do is throw more money at Diesel, and immediately take as many power stations offline for maintenance as possible. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the man had a point: Though Diesel is expensive, it's actually the fastest thing you can get your hands on right now.

Of course that was before things deteriorated so badly that coal is now also a problem. And there are no cheap solutions left.

Well... there is one. A controversial one. And Mark Barnes is going to regret attempting a nuanced and qualified response to it, as I will likely too... but you could use pension money to essentially buy SOE debt, perhaps in the form of government bonds. Right now this is an exceptionally bad idea... you'd have to start by first firing just about the entire board of every SOE and replace it with some really savvy business people... you know, every business needs a dreamer, a businessman, and a SOB. We need several of the latter two...

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19 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

... , it is an immediate and cheap solution they need right now.

Any suggestions?

I agree with Plonkster. Pension funds are off the table and there are no businessmen nor SOB's currently at Eskom, nor any ready on the sidelines, Eskom being state owned with a lot of political baggage.

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I produce flour for the nation, to do it I need mielies.

Collectively, the mielie farmers need my flour to feed their workforce to farm and produce mielies. They cannot make mielies without flour.

But the mielie farmer's wont sell me enough mielies to feed the nation, because they get a better price outside the country.

These mielies however, are special mielies, these mielies are a finite national resource.

If I posed this problem to a class of 5 year olds, how long would it take them?

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8 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

If I posed this problem to a class of 5 year olds, how long would it take them?

That class will win a prize!

I hear you. 

Then again, 5 year old's are not well versed in cross border politics not forgetting that at 5 years of age there are no SOB's between them that can actually stop the selling.

Keeping the "stop selling" in mind, any other suggestions?

 

 

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58 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

If I posed this problem to a class of 5 year olds, how long would it take them?

Well I can think of two knee-jerk answers... you know the first thing adults usually come up with (which is often not that far removed from what 5-year olds will come up with).

The first one most adults come up with is: Make it illegal to export the Mielies (the kids will probably just say... don't do that then!). The second one would be to pay more for the mielies so the farmer would rather sell it to you.

The third option, which is usually what government does, is to stick some kind of levy on it so export becomes less attractive.

I assume your example has to do with coal... because I know Glencore is exporting coal while Eskom is having a shortage.

If I was Glencore I'd tell Eskom to take a long walk off a short peer, given what happened to Optimum and all the strong-arm tactics with the price and the mining license and all that...

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I don't think 5 years would opt for mutual destruction. Which is what the failure of ESKOM means to the mines.

"Guns and butter" is a reference to a simple macro-economic model that demonstrates through trade a win-win solution is possible.

 

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1 hour ago, phil.g00 said:

Which is what the failure of ESKOM means to the mines

And that was where things went wrong right off the bat. Eskom had deals with mines that came down to: Give us cheap coal, and we'll help you develop the mine. They didn't do that... so no new shafts to name just one.

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I quote: Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa.

That 45% used in Africa, Africa is never going to be generating their own anytime.
Eskom is owned by the state, state run by the ANC.
Then there is the humanitarian implications of not selling electricity to Africa.

1 hour ago, phil.g00 said:

"Guns and butter" is a reference to a simple macro-economic model that demonstrates through trade a win-win solution is possible.

Impossible. Guns yes ... butter only if it has a "Bosasa" flavour as "Bosasa" butter makes Africa move smoothly.

"Bosasa" flavoured butter was also used to "smooth" things over around the "cheap coal" deals, till it all "slipped" off the table. A very slippery slope that butter creates.

And the SA Government cannot and will not do options 1-3 to itself, so there goes that.

Public majority, after some more failures, may have a chance to force the ANC to stop selling the "mielies" to their buddies.

Therefor I gave the kids the prize. 🙂 

 

 

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1 hour ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

That 45% used in Africa, Africa is never going to be generating their own anytime.

I think that's untrue. Our neighbours are all working hard on their own sources. Mozambique has large gas resources (and lots of Hydro, the sell some of it to us!), Botswana is working on a large expansion project, Namibia is on the cusp (well, word from up there is that feet is being dragged... but they have gas reserves off the coast at Lüderitz). So basically, never say never! It's closer than people think. Eskom is banking on the idea of selling electricity to neighbouring countries when all those countries are getting ready to cut the umbilical cord. Fun times ahead.

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20 minutes ago, plonkster said:

... never say never!

You are right ... point taken.

The more countries in Africa who can generate their own power, the better for Africa as a continent.

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