CAPE TOWN, South Africa. – The rising cost of electricity in South Africa and the increased demand on the grid are encouraging large commercial businesses to implement energy-efficient initiatives and technologies. Companies are becoming more aware that reducing energy usage will lower operating expenditure, improve profit margins, and enhance their brand image as well as competitive position in a country that is striving to become a carbon neutral economy.
The commercial sector can begin by implementing simple measures such as monitoring lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) use, installing technologies like variable speed drives that have shorter payback periods, and using default energy-saving settings on computers. There is already a growing interest in the replacement of halogen light bulbs with more efficient light-emitting diodes. Using Eskom’s demand side management programmes, which offer financial incentives for saving energy, real-time metering, training staff on energy efficiency, and planning energy management projects effectively, will enable organisations to use resources optimally.
Large commercial businesses in South Africa could further cut down on energy consumption by investing in efficient motors, water heating systems, proper building management, and regular maintenance. Conducting energy-saving audits will also help companies establish benchmarks and identify other areas in which they could save energy.
The lack of human capital with the skills to implement and maintain energy-efficient initiatives, however, prevents organisations from implementing energy management projects. The high capital cost of energy-efficient equipment too deters businesses. Finally, most commercial businesses still do not consider energy efficiency as a core function of their brand and operations.
“To ensure that energy efficiency becomes a culture in South Africa, large commercial businesses should invest in initiatives that positively influence the perception of energy consumers and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices,” stated Van der Waal. “They could then implement projects that will optimise resources and be most profitable for their particular business.”
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New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.energy.frost.com), Energy Efficiency and Large South African Commercial Businesses, finds that peak demand savings went up from 22 megawatts (MW) in fiscal year (FY) 2012 to 141 MW in FY 2013.