Load Shedding or Rolling Blackouts are the way in which the grid or utility provider manage the distribution and availability of power to stabilise supply. They will intentionally engineer power shutdowns for electricity delivery over set periods of ‘non overlapping’ time across a distribution area.
In South Africa, this is a frequent occurrence as the existing infrastructure simply has insufficient capacity to cope with demand. Rolling blackouts can be a daily occurrence for some homes and businesses. This issue causes major inconvenience and as such, many are looking at alternative renewable energy options, such as Solar PV combined with Battery Storage.
Power companies can plan manage such high demand issues with scheduled load shedding or load reduction. These restrictions limit available power for set periods of time to help manage the demand.
Realistically, old infrastructure and power stations were never built to deal with today’s demand for constant power. The cost, time and logistics of completely re-building the power supply network is a mammoth task. Something that most countries simply can’t consider as an option, preferring to take a gradual ‘update’ route instead.
Don’t confuse localised outages with load shedding. Local outages may occur if a technical fault occurs in the transmission or distribution network, or when electricity equipment has been tampered with such as vandalism or theft. Alternatively it could be when there is an overload of the local system because of irregular high usage due to electricity theft as well as normal faults.
Many of us take electricity supply for granted, but in truth the problems that less developed countries across the world suffer from, can affect us all, albeit to a lesser extent.
To put things into context, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan suffered devastating blackouts with hundreds of millions of people affected. But even in Countries such as Italy and Switzerland, a blackout back in 2003 affected more than 56 million.
We all need power but need to be realistic in our demands on an aging infrastructure. Investment in renewable technology that supports or replaces constant grid demand can benefit everyone. This investment would give us a more reliable source of electricity with less demand at peak times. This helps both the utility supplier or grid, and gives homes or businesses a little light at the end of the tunnel too.
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