Why is energy efficiency internationally supported as the preferred solution for economic sustainability?
In a recent survey done by Ernst and Young (E&Y), almost 40% of large corporations in the world see energy costs rising over the next 5 years, with expected increases of at least 15% for the time period. In South Africa, since 2008/2009 the average increase experienced was about 27% per annum amounting to a whopping 100% plus over 5 years not even taking the compounded increase into account.
For the next 5 years our country is faced with the National Energy Regulator’s (NERSA) 8% increase approved for Eskom per annum over the next 5 year period, which will amount to triple than what is globally expected, and carbon tax looming for introduction during the same time frame.
Let’s be quite frank, the detrimental effect on the environment with a ‘business as usual’ approach is receiving a lot of hype and attention, but within business, the ultimate aim is to be as profitable and competitive as possible – why run a business if it is not profitable?
Gil Forer, E&Y’s Global Cleantech Leader was quoted in the E&Y survey report saying: “Only those businesses with a comprehensive and diverse energy strategy will be able to create and maintain a competitive advantage in the resource-constrained world of today.”
The E&Y survey indicates that 92% of respondents view energy saving as the primary objective that major corporations strive towards to contain the anticipated increases and become more competitive. If the world has this view, South Africa should be pursuing energy efficiency even more aggressively.
What is energy efficiency exactly?
The general definition for energy efficiency is understood as the system boundary which lies between your energy input, and your useful work output. It can be viewed in the same way as managing a bank account. The budget is the financial boundary which lies between your deposits, and your expenses. Within the budget is where you control that optimised use of your cash. View energy efficiency in the same way.
As regularly reported in respected journals, saving energy should be approached in a constructive manner so that the system boundary ‘spending and wasting’ can be controlled by following the first steps, first:
1. Behavioural change can deliver up to 30% savings
This would require minimal investment which could include continuous communication, awareness and training at all levels within the organisation about energy efficiency.
2. Operational efficiency can deliver up to 10-40% savings
Merely identifying problem and energy waste areas and implementing and managing corrective measures could require minimal investment if managed by a trained professional.
3. Equipment efficiency can deliver between 5-10% savings
Merely identifying opportunities to improve efficiency of existing equipment and implementing and managing this could require minimal investment if managed by a trained professional.
4. Technology changes can deliver up to 60% savings
Major investment opportunities could be identified for these types of savings, however, if not implemented and managed continuously by a trained professional the ROI won’t be maximised and the savings might be short-lived.
The golden thread here is the importance of managing the energy efficiency processes through a trained professional. The options that need to be explored can become complex, and the calculations to ensure the energy savings remain and improve need to be acquired and practiced.
Are there such professionals in SA?
The US-based Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) has been in existence for 35 years, and its Certification programs are accepted in 89 countries. It’s flagship qualification Certified Energy Manager (CEM®) is accepted—and in some instances a prerequisite—by international governmental departments, regulatory requirements, human resource agencies, etc.
In South Africa a similar trend is trailing where preference is given to CEM’s for energy management positions within energy intensive organisations, and those with serious energy and environmental policies in place.
The Energy Training Foundation (EnTF) has been the approved training partner of the AEE for the Southern African region for over 10 years and have trained well over 1700 delegates to date. Attending the CEM® training course will earn you 5 CPD credits with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). In addition to the AEE’s CEM training and certification, the EnTF also offer the Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) and the soon to be launched Renewable Energy Professional (REP) training and certification.
By Yolanda de Lange, Energy Cybernetics