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Clarens has become South Africa’s first smart town

───   ZENANDE MPAME 12:00 Fri, 26 Jan 2024

Clarens has become South Africa’s first smart town | News Article
South Africa's first smart town. Picture: necessaryindulgences.com

“For a town that depends on tourism, not being subjected to load-shedding is life-changing.”

Clarens has become the first South African town where residents can use “load curtailment” to control their electricity consumption. Eskom announced that this town has become the country’s first smart town with the necessary systems to self-manage its load on the national grid.

Through a process known as load curtailment, which Eskom refers to as lowering electricity use during load-shedding periods, the town can avoid frequent rotating power outages.

“A meter was installed at the town’s main point of supply. Every 60 seconds, the meter sends statistics of the town’s current demand, prompting further reduction if required,” said Clarens group coordinator Gert Kruger.

Residents and businesses voluntarily participate in the load curtailment. Picture: sanparks.org

“For a town that depends on tourism, not being subjected to load-shedding is life-changing. Although the success depends on the voluntary participation of residents and businesses, we have the community’s support as everyone benefits from cooperating.”

In contrast to load-shedding, which switches off electricity based on an established schedule, load curtailment needs to be maintained. Eskom keeps an eye on the decline in demand from its curtailment clients; if there are three strikes, it would resume regular load-shedding for that client.

Clarens was favourable to benefit from smart city initiatives because of smart metering, electric vehicle charging stations, and a variety of small-scale embedded generators which are already installed.

Tourists can enjoy restaurants in the town without the noise of generators. Picture: greenlantern.co.za

“Feedback from visitors, restaurants, and accommodation establishments is very positive and without the noise of generators, tourists can enjoy Clarens’ natural beauty,” said Kruger.

Engineering News reports the project has been successful, with residents able to sufficiently reduce and manage their load, making the Clarens project a benchmark for similar projects to be rolled out in other areas of the country.

OFM News/Zenande Mpame cg

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