Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 23 January 2012 – South African national power utility Eskom Holdings has again warned that the risk of outages in South Africa at the current time is high, owing to extensive maintenance being carried out this summer.

Eskom spokeswoman Hillary Joffe said the country was running on a margin of as little as 2%, and reiterated that the utility had urged all users to cut power use by at least 10%.

Meanwhile, Ken Robinson “’ senior executive of global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company said good planning by Eskom had proved critical in avoiding blackouts during the past three years, which was more than could be said for India and China. Both have been plagued with power cuts, especially during winter.

“India has only about five times South Africa’s generation capacity, but sits with a population 20 times that of South Africa, making extended power cuts a daily occurrence,” Robinson added.
 
Earlier this month police in India shot dead a demonstrator during a protest against prolonged power outages. Protests have become common in a country that has to deal with outages of between eight and 16 hours a day in extreme winter conditions.

China, the world’s second-biggest economy, is building additional power capacity at a rapid rate. However, Robinson said the Asian giant was still battling with blackouts owing to high demand, especially during its very cold winter.

In December, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro had to go without power for two days.

“In comparison South Africa has not been doing too badly,” said Robinson. “South Africa, China and India, especially, have a real opportunity to work together on research programmes on cleaner coal technologies and solutions,” he suggested.

“These three are still very dependent on coal for electricity and will be for many years to come. Considering the possibility of future carbon taxes, I think that this is an opportunity to turn the Brics concept into something real,” said Robinson.