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The importance of managing SA's electricity crisis proactively

The economic cost of power outages to the local economy is estimated to be 5 percent of gross domestic product, equating to more than R190bn per annum. The economic cost of power outages to the local economy is estimated to be 5 percent of gross domestic product, equating to more than R190bn per annum.

According to one study, the economic cost of power outages to the local economy is estimated to be 5 percent of gross domestic product, equating to more than R190bn per annum. In addition to the severe financial implications, power outages also pose a threat to employee health and safety.

According to Cummins Power Generation’s general manager for commercial sales in Southern Africa Cletus Makombe, the current situation is likely to deteriorate before it improves, and he says that local businesses should proactively address the issue by investing in back-up power supply infrastructure in order to avoid costly downtime.

"Although substantial investment has been made into developing new power stations, the reality is that these projects are running behind schedule, while existing plants and infrastructure are ageing, and do not have sufficient capacity to cope with the rising demand for electricity," he explains.

Makombe believes that all businesses, regardless of their size or industry in which they operate, should invest in a fully integrated and customised power generation set (genset) run on either diesel, gas or bio-gas. "All businesses suffer some degree of loss during power outages, and an authorised supplier will install, service and repair a customised genset according to individual specifications."

He states that reliance on stable electricity supply is immense in all industries, ranging from small offices that depend heavily on phone and internet connections, to large-scale industrial operations that run enormous plants and machinery on an around-the-clock basis.  

"Unforeseen electricity cuts also pose a significant threat to employee health and safety, as poor lighting or malfunctioning equipment may result in serious injuries to workers. Until electricity supply becomes stable, the short-term solution for standby power is through gensets," Makombe adds.

Cummins is a global leader in the manufacture, sales and servicing of diesel engines and related technology. The company's Power Generation division is recognised as a world leader in the design and manufacture of pre-integrated generator sets, ranging from 8kVA to 3,300kVA.

'Power-of-One' technology from Cummins Power Generation is an innovative way to ensure the equipment in a power system works in synergy from the start. Under this concept, Makombe notes that all major components including engine, alternator, transfer switches and control systems are designed and manufactured according to the highest standards of quality set by Cummins.

"It involves a pre-integrated design, rather than the combination of an engine, alternator, controls and transfer switches from a variety of manufacturers. The result of pre-integrated power solutions is smaller equipment footprints, reduced installation time and higher system reliability in a region that is regularly affected by constant and prolonged power outages," he continues.

For long and short term standby power needs, Makombe indicates that permanently installed and mobile power systems have been used across Africa by numerous hospitals, factories, office buildings, hotels, casinos and telecommunication centres. "Cummins Power Generation has the ability to meet any demands for standby power, whether it is a simple diesel generator set or a complete PowerCommand pre-integrated power generation system," he concludes.

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