South African consumers should start to consider their options for saving energy and alternative power sources amidst the warnings from Eskom that load-shedding could return for as long as five years between 2011 and 2016.
Managing director of Eskom's operations and planning division, Kannan Lakmeeharan said that the country will consume as much as 228 TWh (TerraWatt hours) this year, compared to the 218 TWh from last year. It's expected that demand for power will grow by two percent a year so the implications for the Parastatal are severe.
Lakmeerharan added that the difference between supply and demand would peak at around nine TerraWatts or the same amount of power generated by one unit at the Koeberg nuclear power station in a year.
"Cape Town uses about 12 TW a year," he says.
"The situation poses a real risk of rolling blackouts similar to those experienced in 2008," claims the report published for public comment by Eskom. So the question facing property owners right now is how best to prepare for the situation.
Standby generateos, although expensive, are an option and these generators will provide convenience when Eskom decides to cut the power of an entire or several suburbs at a time. Diesel generators are expensive to buy and run but they are an alternative to provide power for short periods.
The other options are to stock up on lights that run on battery power, purchase a portable gas stove or, even better, replace your current stove with a gas model and install a solar water heater.
"Consumers throughout South Africa need to take energy conservation seriously because there is a real likelihood that rolling blackouts will be a reality for a sustained period unless something is done to conserve power on the one hand and generate more power on the other," Lakmeerharan said.
"There needs to be a balance between supply and demand and right now we are facing an imbalance between the two," he concluded.