Rising electricity costs and increasing demand on the grid are forcing large commercial businesses in South Africa to look at the introduction of new energy-efficiency initiatives and technologies, according to research from Frost & Sullivan.
The market-research company says South African companies are becoming increasingly aware that reducing energy usage will lower operating expenditure, improve profit margins and enhance their brand image.
“The introduction of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy (NEES) by the South African government to achieve certain social, environmental and economic targets by 2015 is promoting energy efficiency and sustainable practices among businesses,” said Cornelis Van der Waal, Frost & Sullivan’s head of energy and environment. “The NEES aims to improve energy efficiency by 15% in the commercial sector, which currently uses nearly 10% of the country’s energy.”
Frost & Sullivan says the commercial sector can make a start by introducing technologies that allow businesses to remotely monitor heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) use on a real-time basis.
Large commercial business could make further reductions to energy consumption through investment in more efficient motors, water heating systems, building management and maintenance, adds the company.
One problem is a lack of human capital with the necessary skills for some of these activities, which in some cases is preventing organizations from implementing energy-management projects.
The high capital cost of energy-efficient equipment may also be deterring businesses, says Frost & Sullivan, with energy efficiency still not considered to be a core function of branding and operations by most commercial businesses in the country.
“To ensure that energy efficiency becomes a culture in South Africa, large commercial businesses should invest in initiatives that positively influence the perception of energy consumers and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices,” said Van der Waal.
“They could then implement projects that will optimize resources and be most profitable for their particular business.”