Many scientists and engineers have divided opinions on whether the South African grid will collapse or not if the country's current leadership attitude towards coal power generation and allowing themselves to be misled about the case for nuclear power prevails.
Some say there are systems in place to prevent total grid collapse should it happen that consumers draw more power from the Grid than Eskom generation power plants can keep the Grid going as the power pumped into Transmission System dips below untenable point/s.
Some say nothing is guaranteed anymore if anything is to be learned from how Eskom is unable to arrest the persistent breakdowns of the current Eskom generation.
Whatever the case is between the two centres of the divide, one thing is crystal clear: the grid will either be severely compromised or might even collapse unless the South African government leaders stand up to the private bullies who want to take over Eskom's generation market via the back door. Take it over with what?
1 By ramping up more unreliable intermittent renewable energy: wind + solar + battery energy storage system (Bess)?
2 By shutting down and/or neglecting coal power stations units in favour of renewables?
3 By demonising new nuclear power and remain indecisive about the most likely expensive natural gas imports?
No country in the world or planet earth has ever demonstrated that it can run its power system without coal and nuclear unless it is blessed with an abundance of hydro, geothermal and/or sometimes oil and gas. South Africa has none of the latter three: hydro. geothermal. oil and gas.
In the next article, we will talk about why South Africa only has one choice as things currently stand today to stop load shedding and prevent any possibility of the grid collapse.
That choice is: Fix Eskom's coal fleet (11 out of 15 Eskom coal power stations) and expedite Koeberg nuclear power station life extension (steam generators) programme, or else the grid is going to collapse sometime soon.
This includes stopping the closure of Eskom coal power stations and bringing back to service those Eskom coal power stations that were closed down while producing power to make way for the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET IP).
JET IP envisions financing firstly of $8.5 billion (R159bn) and secondly of R1.5 trillion planned from now (2022) to 2035.
Hlathi 'Zak' Madela is an executive director of the South African Energy Forum (SAEF). BSc Chemical Engineering. Wits University (1998).