The City of Johannesburg has begun trials of its new “load limiting” system which it hopes will help mitigate the effects of loadshedding for residents and businesses of Africa’s busiest economic hub.

The load limiting project was launched today by Mayor Parks Tau, and will initially be tested in the Aspen Hills area.

The plan is that rather than cut off electricity to an area entirely, City Power wants to manage demand by getting customers to keep their gadgets turned off when loadshedding is likely to kick in. It will be able to do this through internet-enabled smart meters which provide consumers and suppliers a real-time feed of a premises’ power consumption.

According to City Power, the 65 000 customers with smart meters installed will receive an SMS when loadshedding is due to start in their area, and if they can reduce their load by a set amount – around 70% – the lights will be left on. If nothing is switched off, the electricity supply to the household will go off twice for 30 seconds as a warning before a complete blackout is instigated.

Smart meters are seen as an integral part of preparing an electricity grid for renewable generators in the home, but have been plagued by security and reliability issues worldwide. City Power began upgrading customers who use more than 1 000kWh a month of electricity last year, but the project is behind schedule and more than 2 200 of the first meters installed had to be replaced due to technical issues.

[Via – TimesLive, Image – CC Nico Roets]
Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.