If we all turned off one light, we'd save the output of a Medupi unit

Paul Ash Senior reporter
If all South Africans reduced their geyser temperatures to 60 degrees and switched them off during the day, 743MW would be saved.
If all South Africans reduced their geyser temperatures to 60 degrees and switched them off during the day, 743MW would be saved.
Image: 123RF/choneschones

South Africans collectively switching off unneeded lights would save more electricity than that produced by a generating unit at Medupi.

So said Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter at the utility's state-of-the-grid briefing on Thursday when he called for South Africans to play their part in reducing the strain on the country's tottering electricity supply.

Noting that SA had about 14-million households, De Ruyter said there could be a “meaningful difference” if everyone played a part. “If every household turned off one unnecessary light, that would save about 835MW. That's a huge number ... more than one unit at a big power station like Medupi produces,” he said.

If all households replaced incandescent light bulbs — and “energy intensive” halogen downlights in particular — evening demand could be reduced by roughly 765MW, again the equivalent of a generating unit at a big power station.

SA also had an estimated 675,000 swimming pools whose power-hungry pump motors were heavy consumers of electricity, he added.

“If these pumps run just one hour less a day, and you'll still get rid of all your dirt in the water, that will save 506MW.”

In another example, if South Africans reduced geyser temperatures to 60 degrees and switched geysers off during the day, that would add another 743MW.

“If you add up all these interventions, that will save a total of 2,849MW, equivalent to the consumption of a large city like Tshwane.”

Small actions and being energy aware make a big difference, he said.

The utility was sending engineers to work with National Treasury officials to speed up turnaround times on requests for funding for urgent maintenance and repairs. De Ruyter noted previously that it took on average 77 days for the Treasury to approve payments for spares.

“In some instances some of the technical requirements are very detailed and specific to power stations so, understandably, procurement officials don’t necessarily have all of the technical detail at their disposal,” De Ruyter said.

Noting that the current rules meant Eskom could become “muscle-bound with governance”, De Ruyter called for a more streamlined system that would still maintain adequate control and accountability over public money.

“We understand the responsibility to spend public money wisely, bearing in mind, of course, that some of the most egregious abuses of public money took place while the Public Finance Management Act was being applied to Eskom,” he said.

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