The elimination of non-technical electricity losses in South Africa – i.e. electricity theft and non-payment – would avoid the need for the Stage 1 (1000MW), Stage 2 (2000MW) and Stage 3 (3000MW) load shedding South Africa is currently experiencing (Also see: How much electricity is stolen in South Africa).
This is according to electricity expert Chris Yelland, who said that non-technical losses amount to about 7% of energy (kWh) generated in South Africa.
Operation Khanyisa, an Eskom project aimed at stopping electricity theft, said that theft can occur in various ways, including:
- Fraud – meter tampering and bypassing, abstracting or branching off or diverting electric current
- Illegal connections
- By selling illegal pre-paid electricity vouchers from stolen vending machines
- Through illegal electrification schemes
Operation Khanyisa said that electricity theft takes place everywhere – households in wealthy and poorer residential areas, business people, farmers and Eskom employees.
Yelland said that within City Power Johannesburg, about 32% of all electricity delivered is lost to theft and non-payment.
He added that more than 80% of the electricity supplied by Eskom to the residents and businesses of Soweto is either stolen or remains unpaid.
Stop electricity theft, and you can stop load shedding
Yelland explained that because non-technical electricity losses are not continuous and constant, but follow typical consumption patterns, non-technical losses contribute more than 8% to the national peak demand.
“I would estimate stolen or unpaid electricity to contribute about 10% to the evening peak demand,” said Yelland.
This, Yelland said, means that the elimination of non-technical losses would be significant, and would reduce peak demand by around 3000MW.
A 3000MW reduction in peak demand would stop the need for the load shedding South Africans are currently experiencing.
“The reality is that one can never eliminate non-technical losses. However, South Africa’s non-technical losses are too high and should be halved,” said Yelland.
“This would reduce electricity demand at the evening peak by about 1500 MW, which is still very significant, and would avoid Stage 1 (1000 MW) load shedding.”