Tropical cyclone Eloise threatens return of loadshedding

Andile Sicetsha - 23.01.2021

If tropical cyclone Eloise affects Mpumalanga hard, we could see another spell of #loadshedding, Eskom warned.

Just when we thought we’d made it out of the woods, Eskom threw a whammy on South Africans, warning of the possible return of loadshedding.

Tropical cyclone Eloise set to hit South Africa this weekend

This, the power utility said, was a matter outside of their control. Tropical cyclone Eloise is set to hit Mozambique this weekend, bringing along with it more than 200mm of heavy rainfall and extremely harsh winds, about 150km/hr according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The northeastern parts of South Africa are expected to feel brushes of the cyclone, Mpumalanga being the hot impact zone.

Eskom lays contingency plan to avert loadshedding

In a statement, Eskom said everything was being done to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

“Eskom has put contingency plans in place and our teams are on standby to do everything possible to mitigate these risks. Several plans are in place in anticipation of the storm, and Eskom is also covering a wider area than what is predicted by the weather specialists to ensure we are not caught off guard,” the power utility stated.

Chief to their concerns is power stations whose coal is exposed to the elements. If the wet weather makes it to Lephalale where two large generation stations are situated, it could result in a period of rotational darkness for South Africa.

However, Eskom has activated the ‘wet coal’ contingency plan to minimise the damage.

“Typically, heavy rainfall for four or less days does not pose a significant threat to power station operations, but continuous heavy rainfall for more than four days does hamper coal handling at the power stations and the mines supplying them,” Eskom noted.

The other threat facing South Africa’s fragile power system is the possible loss of 1 000MW transmitted from Cahorra Bassa in Mozambique.

The power utility revealed that while the lines and towers in this area were reinforced a few years back, “two lines still remain vulnerable during a tropical storm such as Eloise,” the electricity provider said.

Extra staff has been placed on standby to attend to emergency breakdowns and faults, “as quickly as humanly possible,” the utility said.

At the time this article was published, load shedding had not been announced.