Carol Paton Writer at Large

Load-shedding during the first quarter of 2019 would have been far worse without the contribution made to the grid by renewable energy, a study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has found. During March, Eskom resorted to stage 4 load-shedding, the most intensive so far, in which 4,000MW of demand was dropped from the grid. Had renewable energy not been available, stage 5 or stage 6 load-shedding would have been necessary on the days the system was most highly constrained. There has been much public debate on the virtues of renewable energy provided by independent power producers with a lobby of trade unions, former Eskom officials and nuclear enthusiasts arguing that it is expensive and unable to alleviate SA’s power supply problem as it is variable and not available when needed most, during peak demand periods. Jarrad Wright, principal engineer at the CSIR, says that data obtained from Eskom shows that utility-scale renewable energy — generated by sola...

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