Despite its chequered past, Eskom appears to be making a concerted effort to drive energy saving initiatives towards a more sustainable future for South Africa.
Two pieces of news recently came to my attention which led me to think that Eskom is perhaps trying to go about things the right way. The first is the fact that Eskom recently become sponsors of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). The second is Eskom’s new Standard Offer programme which essentially pays large electricity users to save electricity.
Represented by its Integrated Demand Management department (IDM),Eskom became a new founding member of the GBCSA via a R500 000 Platinum Founding membership which will support the organisation’s efforts towards changing the way South Africa is built.
As an independent, non-profit organisation, the GBCSA is reliant, to a large extent, on funds raised through sponsorship and membership to facilitate green building awareness and education. Commenting on the sponsorship, the GBCSA’s CEO, Brian Wilkinson said: “Both the GBCSA and Eskom are working towards finding ways to minimise energy consumption in order to create a sustainable future for South Africa. We are thrilled by Eskom’s commitment to the local green building movement and look forward to an on-going relationship which will see us sharing thought leadership and industry experience.”
Andrew Etzinger, Eskom’s Senior General Manager IDM, said: “Eskom’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to promoting energy efficiency across the country, and in the commercial sector in particular. The commercial sector uses ten percent of the country’s electricity and represents a significant savings opportunity given that historically, most buildings were not designed with energy efficiency in mind.”
In terms of Eskom’s IDM Standard Offer Programme, Eskom is inviting any consumer, project developer or energy service company able to deliver verifiable energy savings in the industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors, to propose energy saving projects. Large energy users – those who consume electricity for at least 16 hours a day between 6am and 10pm on weekdays – will be paid for verified energy savings.
Approved energy users will be paid at a fixed amount per kWh over a period of three years. This includes an initial payment of 70 percent of the total project incentive on completion. Achieved savings need to be in the 50 kW to 5 MW range.
Technologies included in the programme are energy efficient lighting systems, LED Lighting systems, building management systems, hot water systems, process optimisation systems, and commercial and industrial solar water systems. Savings through all these technologies groups, with the exception of commercial and industrial solar water systems, and LED Lighting systems, will be paid for at 42c/kWh. Savings through commercial and industrial solar water systems will be paid for at 70c/kWh, whilst LED lighting technology will be paid at 55c/kWh.
These and other initiatives are all aimed at reducing the load on the national grid, and turning South Africa into an energy efficient country. Promising though they are, as the saying goes, ‘the proof is in the pudding’ and only Eskom’s future actions and the results stemming from these initiatives will prove whether or Eskom is on the right track. I for one am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt; for as long as my lights stay on that is.