Electricity, South Africa

Now we’re Cooking with Gas

Why are we cooking with gas? Well, because of loadshedding.

“There is good news and bad news. The bad news is the sh*t is about to hit the fan, the good news is the fan will be off due to load shedding*”, this is more of less the content of a close to the bone spoof Eskom broadcast which did the rounds on social media in recent months.

What is loadshedding

Eskom is South Africa’s creaking electricity monopoly and load shedding is the term they use to describe planned and localised power cuts.  Load shedding is implemented (fairly frequently at the moment) because of an ongoing shortfall between the demand for electricity and the capacity of the grid to supply it.

Why is there loadshedding

How serious is the problem? It’s pretty serious. The grid has suffered mismanagement and poor decision making over the last few years, (meanwhile there have been reports of some rather flash cars parked in the company car park).

The grid infrastructure that currently exists is, rumoured to be, held together with hope and sticky tape. There is no quick fix solution and most likely these planned power outages will continue for the months and probably years ahead. I previously covered just a few of the day-to-day problems that arise during power cuts HERE.

What are the consequences of all these power outages other than the fact that we are now cooking with gas?

Additionally there are more serious and far-reaching consequences including a huge negative impact on the on the economy, but I’m not going to wade into all of that just yet. On the upside, when the power is off, the temptations to browse the internet or glue your eyes to the television temporarily cease. Instead there is more time for reading, for board games, for homework (sorry kids) and play.

Even though many businesses are suffering, any selling generators, inverters, solar panels or similar must be seeing an upturn in sales.

On a personal level it forces the procrastinator in me to be more focused and organised. I have to charge my phone, put the washing on, send the tricky email now-now. To rehash an old saying: Never put off until tomorrow what can be done before load shedding kicks in.

Solar Inventions

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the sh*t hitting the fan provides a great incentive for entrepreneurial souls to shine.  I read about a schoolgirl in the UAE who designed a solar bag so that she could charge her phone when she was out in the desert. Clever. I then found websites for The Solar Bag CompanyBirkSunSunny Bag and Voltaic Systems.  They all appear to sell a range of bags that will charge your smartphone.  Does anybody know if they are any good and whether these or similar products are likely to be available in South Africa any time now?  We have sunshine in generous abundance here and millions cell phones that need charging.  The potential market for things like solar bags must be huge.

Now we’re cooking with gas on a wonky camping stove

“Now we’re cooking with gas” normally has positive connotations.  It’s urban slang for “now we’re really getting going and things are going well”.  However, during a power outage, cooking with actual gas is the ideal option.  This is bad news for those (like us) reliant on electric stoves!  We bought a camping stove so that we could at least make hot drinks, but the gas canister doesn’t fit the frame and the frame isn’t straight so the pan slides off. The only thing sustaining us in the meantime is our corkscrew.

In the meantime, it’s in my interests to explore alternatives for preparing or sourcing meals when the power is off.

If you are experiencing loadshedding and are fed up with cooking with gas, you might also enjoy reading the following posts:

I roped the kids in for a fun and easy loadshedding Litre of Light science project here. More power outage annoyances are details in The Dark Continent.

Top Tip for Predicting Load Shedding

If you’re NOT in South Africa, you don’t need to read on, because it won’t make much sense to you. If you ARE living in South Africa and haven’t yet discovered Eskom’s sepush app, you need it now. You can also try Grid Watch. Not only does this app alert you to power cuts, it even has a nifty little torch icon. Press it and you will have a little light in the darkness – that is assuming you’ve remembered to charge your phone…

* If anybody knows the provenance of the spoof broadcast, please let me know so that I can link to it if possible.

Now we're cooking with gas because of load shedding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.