How solar and wind power helped South Africa avoid stage 5 and 6 load shedding

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has released a new report looking at the contribution of renewable energy during South Africa’s load shedding crisis.

With South Africa needing to resort to stage 4 load shedding in February and March, variable renewable energy (VRE) contributed valuable energy and assisted in avoiding further load shedding, the group said.

“During load shedding periods, Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) contributed 357 GWh in Q1 2019,” said CSIR principal engineer Dr Jarrad Wright.

“This is significant and shows that there is real value in having this capacity producing during these periods of shortage.

“Without VRE, we may have needed to invoke stage 5 and 6 load shedding,” said Wright.

The CSIR’s analysis shows that VRE contributed 2,975 GWh (5.3% of system demand) in Q1 2019 – with instantaneous contributions during load shedding periods being up to 2.3 GW.

South Africa’s utility-scale VRE fleet currently includes:

  • 1.5 GW of PV solar power;
  • 0.5 GW of concentrated solar power (CSP);
  • 2.0 GW of wind power.

The below graphs show how load shedding could have increased to Stage 5-6 without VRE in February and March.

At a media briefing at the beginning of April, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said that Eskom now has a better understanding of the challenges facing it, and how to tackle them.

The minister said that while the aim is to ensure no future load shedding going forward – this is not a guarantee.

“(If this aim fails), at the most, we will see only level 1 load shedding between now and the end of August,” he said.

Read: This is Eskom’s plan to keep the lights on during winter

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How solar and wind power helped South Africa avoid stage 5 and 6 load shedding