Electricity is different from the other services we use on a daily basis, in that unlike water and air which are produced naturally, electricity can be manufactured. In this article, our electricians in Cape Town discuss electricity generation in South Africa
Photo taken from Daily Maverick
South African Electricity Generation
In South Africa, our most abundant, cost-effective source of energy is coal, found predominantly in Mpumalanga and the Northern Province.
Eskom relies on coal fired power stations to produce approximately 90% of South Africa’s electricity, using over 90 million tons of coal per annum.
To meet South Africa’s current electricity demand, Eskom has to produce over 34 000 megawatts a year, a figure that continues to grow.
However, producing this amount of electricity is costly on the tax payer and Mother Nature and therefore needs to be done economically and with the environment in mind.
How electricity is made using coal?
The majority of South Africa’s powerplants are built on top of coal mines, making for easy transportation and access.
Once coal has been mined, it is transported on conveyor belts up into power plants. When inside, it is crushed into fine powder and then burned under controlled conditions using modern boilers to produce high-pressure steam.
This steam then drives turbines that generate electricity while the smoke from the boiler is carefully filtered to remove as much of the unwanted emissions as possible.
In a further attempt to protect the environment, the ash produced by the low-quality coal is stored in long-term storage and returned to the ground, isolating it from the ecosystem.
What is Impact on the Environment?
In spite of this, generating electricity from coal is not ideal for the environment, no matter how cautiously it is burnt there will always be gaseous and solid emissions released.
Two of the major gases emitted, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide, are regarded as having climate-change effects on the environment.
Unfortunately, coal is the most economical way to produce electricity in South Africa. Most other methods are either impracticable or much more expensive.
Furthermore, our rivers are not strong or steady enough to make large-scale hydro generation possible and with the current drought hydro-generation is simply not possible. And although we have abundant supplies of sunlight, harnessing it is problematic and expensive.
Wind Power Generation
Due to research and data gathered through the Western Cape’s experimental wind-power installations, Eskom plans to include more renewable energy into its future planning.
However, wind power relies on several factors and therefore is not as reliable as other forms of generation. Some of these factors include cost of materials and repairs, geographic location and the effects of winter and summer on wind speeds.
Koeberg Power Station, found in the Western Cape, is the perfect example of how the production nuclear energy does not negatively affect the environment surrounding the nuclear power plant.
Nuclear power has long been in disfavour, however, as we mentioned in our previous article, it offers a more sustainable, eco-friendly and more accessible solution to coal energy, especially for parts of our country that are far from coalfields.
Zero Tolerance Electrical - Energy Conservation
Eskom may be responsible for electricity generation in South Africa, however, the responsibility falls on us to conserve as much electricity as possible.
We need to save electricity where we can, making use of energy saving technology in our homes and offices.
Additionally, a substantial amount of electricity can be saved by simply replacing your standard incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs such as LED lights which have an average lifespan of 3 years and save up to 35% on electricity usage per usage.
Zero Tolerance Electrical are the proud stockists of several energy saving technologies and provide certified LED installations.
For more information about our electrical services or electrical contractors, please contact us.