Leaner and Greener: energy efficiency and conservation

Harnessing the sun for energy use

Harnessing the sun for energy use

Today we present the second fact sheet from the Smart Electricity Planning Report. This Second Fact Sheet focuses on how each sector can play their part in energy efficiency. If South Africa reaches its National Energy Efficiency Strategy target of 12%, and continues with a very moderate energy efficiency
programme until 2030, it could cut the entire country’s electricity demand by
16% by 2030 without compromising just economic development.

Around the world, attitudes towards electricity provision and use are changing as quickly as new technologies are being devised to make cleaner, job creating energy solutions available. The good news is that it is possible to reduce the country’s electricity use immediately, using existing technologies, and roll out advancing ones quickly, without compromising just economic development.

Modelling done for the Smart Electricity Planning report found that by using
effective energy efficiency and conservation strategies, and implementing best
available technologies and practices across different sectors:

  • the residential sector could reduce its electricity demand by up to 40%
  • the commercial sector could cut use by up to 25%
  • mining and industry could slash its energy use by between 15% and 20%

The changing energy mix – there are other ways to meet the country’s energy needs.

  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is becoming more and more affordable for industry, commerce and residential sectors to install themselves, and is an affordable way for municipalities to meet the needs of low income homes.
  • Utility-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) plants are a possible source of ‘base load’ electricity because of the storage capacity it offers, although it is expensive relative to other renewable energy sources.
  • Solar thermal technology can be used effectively for commercial and industrial cooling and process heat requirements. Some commercial buildings are already using sun, geo-thermal and combined heat and power to meet their energy needs. This approach needs to be adopted more widely.
  • Wind power can be small-scale, offering a few kilowatts of electricity, or scaled up to large megawatt-producing farms, without disrupting other intended land uses or polluting the environment.
  • Biogas from waste water and bio-degradable waste could be a sound complementary energy source for the commercial, industrial and residential sectors.
  • Landfill gas and other waste-to-energy technologies need development.
  • New battery technologies and energy storage solutions mean that renewable energy technologies are becoming more affordable and reliable as off-grid solutions.
  • Natural gas, while still a fossil fuel, is cleaner than coal. It can generate heat and electricity at the point of use – at a large, small and micro-scale across all sectors.

Please see the Smart Electricity Planning Report  for a full sector-by-sector
breakdown of the available efficiency and conservation measures.

Look out for next week’s fact sheet: The true cost of electricity – looking at the hidden costs.

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