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Generators to banish ‘lights out’ at Twenty20

The three venues for the Twenty20 World Championship — Wanderers, Kingsmead and Newlands — have all decided to use generators as the preferred source of energy to light the games. And this has raised questions about Eskom’s and local municipalities’ ability to handle the much bigger event, the Soccer World Cup, in about 1 000 days.

The T20 tournament starts in Johannesburg next week and the International Cricket Council is determined that bad — or no — light will not stop this year’s event.

Johannesburg’s Wanderers cricket ground, which suffered an embarrassing blackout during the 2003 World Cup, has left nothing to chance, even ensuring it has an alternative source of water should the need arise.

”We will be using generators and council power concurrently. If there is a power failure the generators will kick in and keep running,” said Derrick High, project manager at the Wanderers. ”We have learnt a lot from 2003.”

Wanderers manager Gerhard Beer said the two generators, a 900 kilo Vaults Amps (kVa) and a 1 250 kVa, would be used for about 60% of the lighting requirements, with the rest — in suites, toilets and around the periphery of the stadium — expected to be provided by Johannesburg’s electricity utility, City Power.

Beer said light from the floodlights will be enough to illuminate those areas of the stadium that might be cut off.

He said the floodlights would require about 800 litres of diesel for six hours for each of the games at the venue. Each venue will host nine matches, with the final played at the Wanderers on Heritage Day, September 24.

Alpha Power spokesperson EJ Watson told the Mail & Guardian it had been contracted to ensure continuous light at Durban’s Kingsmead ground.

The ground will use diesel generators at a cost of about R4 500 each night. Watson said the ground has five masts, each with about 100 lights.

Earthlife Africa spokesperson Richard Worthington said it was a ”shame” that the tournament had resorted to diesel generators.

He said cricket, being a popular sport, had missed an opportunity to build awareness of ways of using energy efficiently, such as load-shedding and turning off lights in buildings at night.

Worthington blamed ”artificially cheap” electricity for South Africans’ propensity to use energy less efficiently. He said diesel was not necessarily a better or more efficient option.

”They [the T20 organisers] have moved their eggs from one basket to another instead of managing them better,” said Worthington. He hoped the Soccer World Cup in 2010 would raise awareness of ways to conserve and use energy better.

Russell Adams, the Western Province Cricket Association’s project officer, said Newlands had done ”exactly as was required by the ICC” and the only contingency it could not prepare for was rain.

He said five generators were on hand to ensure that the pylons, scoreboards and pavilions were continuously lit.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) was reluctant to enter the green debate, choosing instead to leave the running of the grounds to the provinces that own them.

CSA spokesperson Michael Owen-Smith said that while the sport’s governing body supported environmentally friendly policies, it only hired the grounds from the provincial associations.

”We have every confidence that the provinces have the ability to run an international game. How many matches have we had without logistical problems?” he said.

Eskom spokesperson Fani Zulu said the utility was preparing for a media conference. The only time he could respond to questions from the M&G about the utility’s ability to handle the 2010 energy needs would be after the newspaper’s deadline.

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