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When my partner starts talking in “engineer”, I become like one of those nodding dogs that people used to have in the back windows of their cars. My head nods, I give a toothy smile and my eyes glaze over. When ‘reserve margin’ was suggested as a topic for this column, I wondered what the white stripe on a rugby field keeping the reserves behind the playing field had to do with engineering?… (more)

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There has been renewed speculation about future power stations in South Africa since December 2008, when Eskom, after receiving tenders from two vendors for new nuclear power stations, decided not to place an order. South Africa has a critical shortage of generation capacity. In a healthy electricity grid the reserve margin should be about 15%. The reserve margin quoted by Eskom is 8%, but in practice it could be as low as zero… ( more)

Over the last 10 years the electricity reserve margin in South Africa, has been steadily declining, due to increasing demand for power and limited new generation capacity being commissioned. In 2006, regional load shedding was required due to network inadequacies and insufficient regional generation resources. In early 2007, the first incident of national load shedding occurred due to the inability to supply demand with the operational generation capacity… (more)

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