Despite opposition from many energy-intensive companies in South Africa, power utility Eskom was still recommending that the country’s top 500 consumers sign on to a mandatory Energy Conservation Scheme (ECS), which would only be activated during times of crisis.
Eskom operations and planning division MD Kannan Lakmeeharan said that imposing the 10% mandatory savings targets (against a 2006 baseline) would go a long way to promote energy efficiency.
“The mandatory scheme will act as a safety net if we need to use it. The target could be adjusted according to the severity of the gap,” he explained.
Eskom has said that it was important to have the scheme in place, to allow those affected time to adjust to the disciples it would bring. For instance, the proposed ECS would require large users to establish baselines and have electricity monitoring and verification equipment in place.
He, thus, urged companies to sign up to voluntary savings programmes, even if they were opposed to mandatory savings targets.
Some 140 of Eskom’s top 500 consumers had already signed up to voluntary savings schemes, having achieved average savings of about 5% against the baseline.
Lakmeeharan warned that these savings were slipping over the past calendar year, and speculated that this might be because the companies were increasing production.
He further stated that some companies were becoming more energy efficient than others, and applauded gold miners AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields for having implemented energy savings of about 10%, without affecting production costs.
The appointment of dedicated energy managers within a company was also recommended, with Afrox, SABMiller and Coca-Cola having already done so, with positive savings results.
Eskom has forecast a supply/demand gap of between 6TWh and 9TWh during 2011 and 2012, over and above savings that should be achieved from demand reduction and efficiency projects. It says that 9TWh is equivalent to the yearly consumption of a city such as Cape Town.
Lakmeeharan said that all South Africans had a responsibility to be more energy efficient, and noted that action was required from commercial offices, in the areas of lighting and climate control, as well as residential consumers.
He highlighted that up to 1 700 MW was saved during the peak electricity periods during the World Cup, when the red ‘power alert’ was broadcast, showing the difference that consumers could make when urged to.