Energy efficiency lies at the core of sustained industrial and economic growth in South Africa, and industries and businesses must prepare more sufficiently for inevitable energy price hikes, while government should be more proactive and involved in encouraging energy efficiency. These were the conclusions of a workshop on industrial energy efficiency that took place recently in the capital of South Africa, Pretoria.
Representatives of the National Cleaner Production Centre, South Africa (NCPC-SA), the Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA), the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) participated in the workshop to discuss the challenges of rising energy costs and access to reliable alternatives in the country. They agreed that the overall energy efficiency of South Africa is currently stifled by policy, regulations and legislations.
The NCPC-SA is a member of UNIDO and UNEP’s global Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production Network (RECPnet). It assists industry in achieving energy and cost savings through initiatives such as the industrial energy efficiency project, which has saved industry over US$100 million (R1.7billion) in energy costs in five years. The second phase of the project is being implemented by NCPC-SA and UNIDO.
Ndivhuho Raphulu, Director of NCPC-SA, said energy efficiency initiatives can be used as a tool for growth in challenging economic conditions. “By investing more in research, development and innovation centres, government can accelerate energy efficiency and infrastructural development with an excellent return on investment. This needs to be supported by improved policy framework, and by strategically identifying regional business opportunities with the private sector.”
Deidre Penfold, Executive Director of CAIA, emphasized that the chemical industry can be an apex for upstream and downstream industry growth. “The private sector wants to grow and invest locally but cannot because a lack of cheaper energy alternatives. Gas-to-power is a prime example of an alternative energy technology that would greatly assist the chemical industry in achieving growth.”
In addition to reducing carbon footprints, a long-term and strategic energy efficiency plan is also crucial to streamlining operational costs for business, highlighted Alexander Haw, who represented the Consumer Goods Council.
Crescent Mushawana, principal engineer at the CSIR, said government and business must work hand-in-hand to develop an energy management system and model that measures what is best for the country in terms of sustainable supply and cost trajectories. “Energy efficiency makes business sense – it is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ option.”
Participants also shared best practices and case studies on workable solutions, including energy management systems, energy modelling (integration of alternatives) and energy efficiency financing.