Smart meters for South Africa


Buyelwa Sonjica,
South Africa’s minister
of minerals and energy
Pretoria, South Africa — (METERING.COM) — January 28, 2008 – Smart metering for residential customers is one of a number of interventions that have been proposed by the South African government as part of a National Electricity Emergency Program to alleviate the country’s growing energy crisis.

In its response paper the government estimates that load management using smart metering has the potential to reduce load by an estimated 3,265 MW. This includes 2,161 MW from domestic hot water heaters, 246 MW from laundry (2 percent contribution to peak), 122 MW from pool pumps (1 percent contribution to peak) and 736 MW from other appliances (6 percent contribution to peak).

Although smart metering can be initiated in the short term, the benefits will be reaped in the medium to long term, says the government. However, the program will need extensive human resources, but provides an opportunity for training and job creation.

Other measures in the program for implementation in the short term, i.e. within the next six months, include power rationing, further rollout of compact fluorescent light fittings and solar water heaters, and initiatives to switch to liquid petroleum gas. In the medium term measures proposed include moving the tariff regime closer to a cost reflective basis, while in the longer term there will be more focus on renewable energy development.

South Africa’s energy crisis has been building up as demand has grown over the past decade edging closer to capacity but supply has remained largely unchanged and little future planning was undertaken. The issue came to a head last week following several weeks of rolling load shedding nationwide, when, apparently exacerbated by wet coal, power availability declined significantly and the country’s gold and platinum mines were obliged to suspend operations.  

The program is aimed at achieving overall savings of between 10 to 15 percent, with consumption reduction targets of 10 percent in the residential and industrial sectors, 15 percent in the commercial sector and 20 percent in hotels, shopping malls and convention centers.