Software solutions support digitalisation of South African power grid

18th May 2017
Posted By : Anna Flockett
Software solutions support digitalisation of South African power grid

Supporting more than 100 control room operators and 6,000 field crews to keep the lights on, ABB’s Network Manager SCADA and distribution management system at Eskom is based on a large scale. Being the seventh largest utility in the world, Eskom generates around 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and imports and exports power to countries in the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) region.

Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors.

Rising population and an increasing demand-supply gap are ongoing challenges and the utility is constantly looking for ways to address these in multiple ways. This includes long-term initiatives and continuous maintenance and improvement of the power grid, as well as extra capacity, to keep the lights on for millions of households and commercial businesses in South Africa. An increase in the supply of reliable power can significantly support economic growth in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Eskom now operates one of the largest installations of ABB Ability-based Network Manager Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Distribution Management Systems (DMS) – a key component of the utility’s efforts to digitalise its grid. This technology supports more than 75% of the power distributed in the territories served by the utility. Eskom also uses the ABB Ability Service Suite, which is a workforce management software that enables the company to identify supply and network issues and dispatch field crews to the right location, helping to quickly restore power if there is an outage. This solution also enables the field resource to keep the dispatch centre and the Customer Contact Center informed on the progress of the fault restoration. 

Eskom’s move towards digitalisation has made it possible for the company to reduce operating costs and improve their operational efficiency. The system supports a constant flow of actionable data with instantaneous status reports to operators across five control centres in Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg (close to Durban), East London, Johannesburg and Witbank, as well as data to service centre staff, field crews and management. This has resulted in a significant improvement when it comes to managing unplanned outages and mitigating their impact. It also facilitates better maintenance planning. 

“We are pleased to play a key role in supporting the grid optimisation and digitalisation efforts of Eskom. Our advanced software-based solutions and Network Manager SCADA/DMS technologies are making a significant contribution to help Eskom manage its electricity resources more efficiently, improve maintenance and minimise down-time from outages” said Massimo Danieli, Managing Director of ABB’s Grid Automation business unit, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. ”These digital solutions not only make the grid smarter but improve power security and reliability of electricity supplies to the people thus promoting customer satisfaction.”

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