It’s not much of a secret that things are bad at Eskom, we have a week’s worth of loadshedding alerts to show for that, but just how bad are things?

That’s a question that the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has been trying to answer for the last few months.

Back in April, Outa filed an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) with Eskom, requesting that system performance be made available to the public.

Now, many months later, we finally have that data, well, some of it.

“Although this is a good start, the information now provided is still far from what is provided by Eskom’s peers around the world,” says Outa energy advisor, Chris Yelland.

Head over to this website and you will find a myriad data sets including:

  • Lockdown tracker (demand during lockdown in South Africa)
  • Demand
  • Supply
  • Open Cycle Gas Turbine usage
  • Renewable
  • Outage performance
  • Emissions

While this is great, it’s a far cry from the three pages of datasets that Outa requested.

In fact, Yelland has already analysed the data provided and outlined the issues. You can read his thoughts below.

  • OUTA asked for an hourly data feed so we could produce our own dashboards on what customers want and need to know. Eskom has presented its own dashboard based on what Eskom wants the public to see.
  • OUTA asked for granularity at the power system level, technology level and power station level, and in due course at the generator unit level at each power station. The information is provided only at the system level, with limited technology granularity and no power station granularity.
  • No zoom, pan, trend analysis or data download facilities are provided.
  • No energy availability factor (EAF) information is provided at system, technology, power station or generator unit level (although EAF at system level can be derived after some calculations).
  • No primary energy use, water use, primary energy stockpile level, diesel tank level or water level information is provided.
  • No real-time environmental information on sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides or particulate matter emissions is provided – only historical monthly reports.
  • Several parameters have limited time resolution (for example, daily, not hourly as requested).
  • There are no correlation analysis facilities, for example, allowing one dataset to be placed alongside another dataset with the same timeframe for trend and correlation analysis and comparisons.
  • The way data is presented is rudimentary, and not in line with current IT best practice seen in good, commercially available dashboard software systems. Eskom could have leapfrogged to a really great information system dashboard based on what is standard practice today.

So while Eskom complied, it’s akin to my 7th Grade electronics project, that is to say, pathetic and not all that great to look at.

But why is this data so important?

For one, Eskom is meant to serve its customers and right now, it appears as if the utility is more involved in chasing tariff increases than fixing long standing issues.

This data gives South Africans a bit more insight into Eskom’s operations and hopefully when folks comment on issues and make suggestions, there is data to back that up.

Whether this will ultimately lead to greater accountability and transparency however, remains to be seen.

As a reminder, loadshedding Stage 1 kicks off at 16:00 today.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.