A study conducted over 30 months suggests that South African cities can significantly reduce electricity outages by incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into water heaters. This innovative approach could mitigate the economic impact of prolonged blackouts.
A Simple Solution to Reduce Eskom Load Shedding in South Africa
The study, conducted by South African startup Plentify, demonstrates that using AI-enabled water heaters in just a quarter of a city’s households could lead to a substantial reduction in blackouts.
Reducing Blackouts with AI-Powered Water Heaters:
Plentify’s research reveals that the installation of AI-equipped water heaters can have a substantial impact on reducing blackouts. These devices automatically adjust their power consumption, avoiding peak usage times and harnessing solar energy during optimal daylight hours.
By implementing this technology in a portion of households, blackouts could be reduced by approximately 20 hours per month. This innovative solution focuses on optimizing water heater energy consumption, which can account for up to half of household electricity usage.
Plentify conducted its research in Cape Town and the Hessequa municipality in the Western Cape province, involving 500 homes. The study demonstrated that maximum demand from water heaters, which often drive up electricity consumption, could be reduced by up to 60% when AI-based water heaters are utilized.
South Africa’s Ongoing Struggle with Power Outages:
South Africa has grappled with persistent power outages, with some lasting over 10 hours a day in the past year. These blackouts are largely attributed to aging coal plants that frequently experience breakdowns.
Positive Developments in the Energy Sector:
Despite these challenges, there are positive trends emerging in South Africa’s energy sector. Independent energy analyst Pieter Jordaan’s Utility Power Statistics indicate that the third quarter of 2023 has witnessed the lowest electricity demand in five years.
This decrease is attributed to the growing adoption of alternative energy sources, particularly solar power, by both households and businesses. While the power supply gap persists, these developments are contributing to a reduction in the severity and frequency of blackouts, providing some relief to South African communities and the economy.
The incorporation of AI-powered water heaters offers a promising solution to mitigate electricity outages in South African cities. Alongside a decrease in electricity demand due to the adoption of alternative energy sources, this innovation could help alleviate the burden of load shedding on households and businesses while contributing to overall energy efficiency.