A few backup lights and a small battery-inverter system that can last for the typical duration of load-shedding are the backup power solutions Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter uses at home.
The CEO recently spoke to MyBroadband about his personal views and experience of load-shedding as a South African citizen.
De Ruyter said that South Africans had every right to be angry about load-shedding, as it was a failure to fully deliver on a promise to provide a reliable electricity supply for more than thirteen years.
“It is now common cause that load-shedding occurred as a consequence of some of the poor decisions this company and country have made over the years,” De Ruyter said.
“It will take years to correct the problems caused by poor maintenance and repairing the design defects of the new power stations and to fully recover the performance of the generation fleet.”
De Ruyter said his family and those of the Eskom management team had been negatively affected by load-shedding, just like every South African household.
“Consequently, we had to make some investments in backup lights and have changed the way we work to adapt to this reality,” he stated.
While he didn’t state exactly which types of backup lights, several bulbs fitted with small batteries to charge when power is available and emit light during load-shedding are available in South Africa.
De Ruyter said in addition to the backup lights, he also installed a small inverter and batteries to power a few lights, the Wi-Fi, and the TV.
“This is enough to last us for the two and a half hours of load-shedding,” he stated.
The solution used by De Ruyter can be comprised of a wide variety of components and custom configurations.
One popular user-friendly implementation is the power trolley, which combines an inverter and batteries in a portable design.
Two major power trolley manufacturers in South Africa are Ellies and Mecer.
We also asked De Ruyter for his own recommendations on backup power solutions to survive load-shedding.
The CEO said that an inverter with batteries was a relatively affordable system for backup.
He advised against larger grid-tied solar systems used to reduce electricity consumption even when there is no load-shedding.
“Compared to Eskom’s domestic tariff, such installations don’t make much financial sense,” he stated.
De Ruyter also said he was not a fan of generators, as they tended to be noisy and emitted hazardous carbon monoxide.
The CEO also shared some positive news on Eskom’s generating capacity over the last few months.
“Whereas Eskom was only able to supply just under 28,000MW of capacity during the last half of 2020, this has now improved to just under 35,000MW on average since April 2021.”
“This is as a result of the maintenance work that we have undertaken to prepare for the winter,” De Ruyter said.
Eskom will again have to take off machines to prepare for the next winter, further reducing capacity to meet the demand in the summer months.
“The work to restore the operational performance will take time to deliver, and we urge the public to bear with us as we restore the company to good operational performance.”