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Mains Power Generators Alone Still Failing to Meet Gauteng Needs

There can be little doubt that South Africa is currently in the grip of an electrical power crisis. Nowhere is the evidence of this crisis more apparent than in the clear failure of the national utility company’s generators to adequately meet the growing demands of both residents and businesses in and around Gauteng.


Although it is the nation’s smallest province, it is the most populous of the nine as well as representing South Africa’s main business hub, and supporting numerous large industrial complexes which, together, amount to a huge demand on the local facilities tasked with the production and distribution of mains electricity. To meet the requirements of industry, commerce and residents in the region, the province has just three power stations, all coal-fired and, of these, two are due for de-commissioning in the relatively near future. By contrast, Mpumalanga has eleven operational facilities and a twelfth under construction while even Limpopo, a region consisting predominately of Bushveld, has two coal-fired units and a hydroelectric scheme in the planning stage.


Lack of foresight on the part of Government has resulted in insufficient funding for essential new construction and barely sufficient funding to maintain existing hardware and infrastructure, with the result that many businesses and households in Gauteng that would have normally relied upon mains power have been forced to invest in generators. 


While redirecting power to a given area at times when it is most needed is possible via Escom’s reticulation networks, such a system is only as effective as the total power available and therein lies the problem. To overcome power shortfalls the alternative solution has been for the nation’s consumers to share periods of enforced downtime. The national supplier manages this by means of a load-shedding programme of pre-announced power outages of fixed duration, and targeting certain pre-named areas, during times of peak consumption.


For the residents of affected areas, although these blackouts generally only last a few hours, the effects are nevertheless disruptive. In an attempt to normalise their lifestyles, many households and small businesses such as convenience stores have chosen to install generators to provide them with a source of backup power. The needs of industry in Gauteng, however, cannot be met with the small, petrol-driven units purchased for use in Pretoria and Johannesburg’s homes and corner shops. Instead their demands will only be met with the far more powerful and larger diesel-fuelled units. In practice, often a plant will require several such units operating together in order to meet its peak load requirements.


Of course, some industries operate in areas beyond the reach of mains electricity and must therefore meet all their needs with power generated on site. For those that normally rely on the national electricity supply, not only is the need for a backup source important; it is also vital that there is some means to switch as quickly as possible between the two sources in order to avoid costly interruptions to production.


In Gauteng, PacB Power Solutions are leaders in the design, assembly, installation, and maintenance of high-performance generators and control systems for seamless switching during planned or unplanned power outages. We specialise in gensets tailored to your precise needs.


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