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Eskom’s Virtual Power Station: Generating negaWatts

Conference: African Utility Week
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Presenter: Rob Surtees
Abstract: Presented by Rob Surtees at African Utility Week

While load shedding is the most extreme measure a utility can adopt to manage a capacity shortfall, other more preferable initiatives based on voluntary customer load curtailment (NegaWatt Generation) have been widely implemented internationally as well as in South Africa for many years. Eskom has in the light of the current Capacity crisis in SA started implementing its "Virtual Power Station" (VPS).

The VPS will enable system operators to schedule customer load reduction in much the same way as normal generation plants are dispatched. A variety of demand response are programmes are being aggregated within the VPS, including customers with standby generation and ripple control systems. Eskom has also historically included a number of its largest customers in an interruptible load program under the Demand Market Participation (DMP) initiative, which will also form a substantial component of the VPS. The paper describes the approach taken in the development of the VPS as well as the technology being employed.

The potential for demand response in SA is examined and it is concluded that this NegaWatt generation capacity through initiatives such as Eskom’s Virtual Power Station can virtually eliminate the need for Eskom to use its generation plant for the provision of reserve margins.