What is ESKOM, And How Does It Work?

“All the foodstuffs I put in the fridge are bad; It’s been one week of total blackout.” These are a few of the thousand cries we hear when a power failure occurs.

Electricity is one of the most important blessings that science has given to mankind. It has become a part of modern life, and one cannot think of a world without it. For this reason, a lack of consistent access to reliable power costs businesses and the economy as a whole. Hence, to solve an interrupted supply of electricity In the city of South Africa in particular and the world at large, a South African electricity public utility known as ESKOM was established. 

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In this article, we are going to consider what ESKOM is and how it works.

What is ESKOM?

ESKOM means Electricity Supply Commission. Created in 1923, this state-owned enterprise supplies 90% of its electricity to South Africa and 30% to other African countries. It generates, transmits, and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, and agricultural sectors.

A whole complex mechanism is required for electricity supply to reach homes and industries. It involves a medium through which highly concentrated sun rays are absorbed by a heat transfer medium and are reflected by heliostats. The heated fluid is then sent through a heat exchanger, where the thermal energy obtained is used to generate steam and power a turbine.

As a primary electricity provider, ESKOM has helped the population of South Africa in providing sustainable electricity solutions and goes a long way to generate a sustainable foundation for growth and creating value for society through job creation, economic empowerment, and socio-economic development and transformation. On the other hand, a major setback of this Commission includes its high cost of operation resulting from failure to prepare for an increase in population’s needs.

ESKOM endeavours to meet up with the high demand for electricity relative to supply. As such, ESKOM is faced with two options, that is, either to increase the supply of electricity or reduce the electricity demand. Since ESKOM cannot reduce the electricity demand, the supply of electricity is its only option. 

ESKOM Loadshedding

How does ESKOM control its supply of electricity? This is done through a practice known as load shedding. By load shedding we mean, distributing the demand for electricity across other power sources and, in other words, releasing a primary energy supply from an excess supply of energy when the electricity demand is greater than its supply. To meet the population’s demand for electricity, the supply of electricity must be greater than its demand. But sometimes, this is not the case because, at some periods, supply is less than demand as a result of continuous demand for electrical services. As South Africa’s main supplier of electricity, ESKOM directly supplies electricity to the entire population of South Africa. All things being equal, ESKOM regularly does several maintenance checks to ensure that the supply of electricity is constant even during periods of high demand.

Some countries that experience blackouts can easily tap electricity from a neighbouring country or city, but this is not the case with South Africa. Knowing that the population solely depends on ESKOM for power supply, this load shedding method is used to manage energy distribution.

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How does ESKOM practice load shedding? (ESKOM’S load shedding schedules)

To do load shedding effectively, eight schedules have been developed by ESKOM. These include the following:

The First Stage involves the shedding of up to 1000MW

The Second Stage involves the shedding of up to 2000MW

The Third Stage involves the shedding of up to 3000MW

The Fourth Stage involves the shedding of up to 4000MW

The Fifth Stage involves the shedding of up to 5000MW

The Sixth Stage involves a load shed of up to 6000MW

The Seventh Stage involves a load shed of up to7000MW

The Eight Stage involves a load shed of up to 8000MW.

From the above schedules, 

Stage one load shedding means consumers will be deprived of electricity 3 times in 4 days at an interval of every 2 hours or 3 times in 8 days at an interval of every 4hours. Stage two involves depriving consumers of electricity 6 times in 4 days at an interval of every 2 hours, or 6 times in 8 days at an interval of every 4 hours. Stage three involves depriving consumers of power supply 9 times in 4 days at an interval of every after 2 hours, or 9 times in 8 days at an interval of every after 4 hours. Stage four involves depriving consumers of electricity 12 times in 4days at an interval of every 2hours or 12 times in 8 days at an interval of every 4hours. Stages five to eight indicate consumers not having electricity 12 times in four days at an interval of 4hours.

It should be noted that stages one to four carry a load shed of two-hour blocks, and if more load needs to be shredded, then an agent known as the National Control will have to pass instructions for shedding to be done out of scheduled times.

How much does eskom charge per kwh(ESKOM tariff)

An amount of 134c/KWH of electricity is what ESKOM charges its consumers. This tariff comprises an incentive to help consumers benefit from ESKOM directly. This incentive is known as the HOMEFLEX Incentive. This incentive is made up of a peak and off-peak rate. Consumers of electricity benefit from these rates as the price of electricity drops during off-peak times than during peak times. These fluctuations result in an increase in electricity rates during the winter season and a fall in electricity rates during the summer season.

In conclusion, it is without any doubt that ESKOM generates and supplies electricity to the entire population of South Africa. It has so far achieved success through teamwork and proper coordination, as it owns at least 100% of the market. Because it is a state-owned entity with monopolistic features, they can attribute whatever price to consumers, and demand will remain constant because electricity is a must in our everyday lives. 

For more inquiries:

Postal: PO Box 1091, Johannesburg,2001

Physical: Maxwell Drive, Megawatt Park, Sunning hill, Sandton Johannesburg

Call: 011 800 8111/08600 37566

Email: www.eskom.co.za

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