Power utility Eskom was assisting its key customers to implement energy-efficiency plans, as they were considered partners in resolving the country’s electricity challenges.
Following success at its Simmerpan offices in Germiston, the Eskom Integrated Demand Management (IDM) division was working with mining giant BHP Billiton at its Hillside aluminium operation in Richards Bay, explains Eskom IDM corporate customers senior manager Dhevan Pillay.
In partnering to save energy, BHP Billiton committed to a savings target, and Eskom would assist the company in reaching that target.
The BHP Billiton project was based on consumption data gathered from April 2009 to March 2010, and significant energy reductions and cost savings were envisaged going forward.
By targeting a specific company, energy management could be focused at the industrial, commercial, and even residential sectors through employees.
The basis started with going into the company, meeting with employees and instilling behavioural changes at the individual level – employees got an energy-efficiency badge and became ambassadors for the cause.
This formed the foundation for the pillars of energy efficiency, water efficiency, ecofriendly solutions, renewable energy and alternative energy.
These pillars hold up the strategy and policy going forward, and the company would implement the long-term vision.
The energy-efficiency strategy was implemented at the plant level, but reached further as it also had an employee-assist programme. Under this programme, employees retrofitted things like light bulbs at the home or hostel, fitted low-flow shower heads, installed geyser blankets, solar water heating or heat pumps, for example.
At the plant, real-time monitoring would take place, as well as energy audits, and equipment such as energy-efficient lighting, solar water heating, heat pumps, heating ventilation and cooling, was installed, as well as any identified operational or technological efficiencies.
Eskom assisted in identifying where potential funding for the project could be derived, be it through the utility’s demand-side management budget, tax incentives or carbon financing.
Pillay emphasised that the successes at these sites could be replicated elsewhere. Eskom was investigating taking this model forward in the retail and banking sectors.
Pillay added that this allows consultants in the energy-efficiency industry to focus on developing innovative solutions, rather than merely replicating energy-efficiency strategies at different companies.
Eskom could assist companies to replicate models that have already shown success.
The strategic partnership between Eskom and BHP Billiton Aluminium meant that the entities sat together and discussed a range of issues including greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency and effectiveness, load management, cogeneration opportunities, exchange of information and ideas, replication of successful projects and collaborative research.
Pillay noted that the success of the programme hinged on the buy-in from numerous key stakeholders, namely the company, in this case BHP Billiton, Eskom, government, municipalities, financiers, suppliers, installers and employees.