Electricity is a scarce national resource in South Africa. In one of its latest drives to keep the lights on, Eskom is urging businesses country-wide to cut back on their power usage by ten percent.
In a bid to support this drive, Eskom has introduced various programmes and tools which will facilitate the switch to energy efficient technologies and optimal energy consumption. Through cutting back, not only do businesses save on their running costs but they alleviate pressure on the national grid and give the environment a break too.
One of Eskom’s most recent energy saving initiatives is the Standard Product Programme which has been specifically designed to achieve demand reduction of between 1 kW and 250 kW at facilities through the replacement of inefficient technologies.
The Standard Product Programme - which is ideal for retail outlets, guest houses, factories, residential estates and the agricultural sector - may be undertaken directly by a customer, an Energy Services Company (ESCo) or Project Developer. Any consumer, ESCo or Project Developer which is able to deliver verifiable energy savings are invited to propose projects. If approved, the successful energy user will be paid for verified savings at a fixed amount per kWh over a period of three years.
This is broken down into an initial payment of 70 percent of the total project incentive on completion, with three subsequent annual payments of 10 percent, based on actual performance. Achieved savings need to be in the 50 kW to 5 MW range and will be verified by an authorised, independent, measurement and verification company.
Only technologies that have been approved by Eskom will be considered, including specific ‘off-the-shelf’ products such as energy efficient light fittings (CFLs or compact fluorescent lamps), heat pumps and water saving shower heads. Other technologies include LED Lighting systems, building management systems, process optimisation systems, and commercial and industrial solar water systems.
To date, 90 projects have been completed and another 361 implemented country-wide as a result of the Standard Product Programme. The programme follows in the wake of Eskom’s Standard Offer Programme under which large energy users (which consume electricity for at least 16 hours a day between 6am and 10pm on weekdays) are paid for verified energy savings.
The Standard Offer Programme is ideal for factories or manufacturing plants, retail chains, financial institutions, commercial properties, office parks or large agricultural operations. Eskom is inviting business owners across South Africa to submit projects for approval under the two programmes. A new, streamlined process has been implemented which ensures projects are approved within less than two weeks from submission date. In the interim, both large and small businesses seeking to save electricity can do so by adopting a few simple measures. These include, amongst others:
• Appointing an energy manager for office buildings to monitor electricity usage and identify savings opportunities.
• Installing motion sensors at security points and in meeting rooms.
• Reducing lighting levels in parking areas to the minimum legal requirement during the day. These lights should be turned off at night after the building lights have been turned off.
• In terms of climate control, businesses should maintain a difference of not more than 10° Celcius between the interior and exterior of buildings. In summer for instance, this can be achieved through turning on extraction fans at around 4am to draw cold outside air through the building to cool down the structure and closing window blinds to shade rooms from direct sunlight.
• An important savings tip for the office is to not leave computers, copiers, printers and fax machines on standby as they continue to use electricity in this mode