Further Energy Efficiency Encouragement for South Africa

SOUTH Africa faces an uncertain power supply during this winter, as we have previously reported the state owned utility Eskom have called for increased energy saving and efficiency.

The current energy supply to demand margin is tight, leading Eskon to make no guarantees of a blackout free winter or load-shedding. With the situation aggravated after a fire earlier this year at the Duvha power station damaged units leading to almost 600 MW being lost for at least more than a year.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames stated: “We kept the lights on in the first quarter, but the next three months will be tighter. We can address the challenge of keeping the lights on only if all 49-million of us South Africans work together. We need to create a culture of energy efficiency to save power, save our pockets and save the planet. “

We reported recently on these pages that Eskom launched its 49M initiative, encouraging every South African to reduce electricity consumption, stating that, if power demand isn’t reduced the country is putting the continuation of supply at risk.

In South Africa’s Integrated Resources Plan 2010, energy efficiency is regarded as an important factor in the country’s future energy mix, hence money has been made available through the electricity tariff to drive energy efficiency.

Eskom have been allowed by South Africa’s energy regulator to increase the price of electricity. This contributes R54-billion ($8.17 billion) over three years, with the distribution of the funds managed by Eskom’s Integrated Demand Management (IDM) unit. The amount for energy efficiency and demand-side management by IDM for the current financial year (ending March 2012) is R1.8-billion ($272 billion) with the target of saving 311 MW over this period.

IDM general manager Andrew Etzinger told Engineering News that energy efficiency proves beneficial when compared with the huge cost of building new generation capacity.

“The target of 311 MW is roughly 10 percent of the size of a new power station. A new power station would cost about R100-billion ($15.3 billion) to build – conservatively – so, just doing the maths, we are looking, roughly, at an avoided supply side cost of about R10-billion ($1.52 billion) in capex. The business case is compelling – spending R1.8-billion to save R10-billion,” he said.

He also highlighted that apart from the environmental benefits of energy efficiency, Demand Side Management programmes can be rolled far quicker than new build programmes. “So, on a number of parameters, it’s a no-brainer; we have got to do it and we have got to do it quickly. It makes sense in every dimension,” Etzinger told Engineering News.

134 companies have currently signed up to a voluntary scheme to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent, but if this is not enough, Eskom will look for the voluntary scheme to become mandatory, with likely penalties for businesses failing to reach the required reductions.

Picture by NJR ZA

Friday 29th April 2011

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