Last month, the Department of Energy (DoE) in collaboration with the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Department of Trade and Industry, and local and international partners unveiled the ‘Save Energy’ energy efficiency programme intervention, which is in support of the energy saving campaign launched by President Jacob Zuma in March last year.
The launch followed the instruction given during the 2015 State of the Nation Address that the DPW ensure that all government buildings become more energy efficient. Since then, effort had gone into preparations for the build-up of all the initiatives already rolled out by State-owned power utility Eskom and municipalities across the country.
“South Africa is among the world’s least energy efficient countries in terms of its economy. The country’s economy is energy intensive to the extent of about 40% of Africa’s total electricity use. In addition, our country is the eleventh highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world,” Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson said during the Africa Utility Week in Cape Town last month.
She noted for instance that “to achieve an energy efficient economy going forward as we implement the outcomes of the twenty-first Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention in Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted last September, we alluded to the importance of appliance labelling as an energy efficiency measure.”
Government has recognised energy efficiency as a key element of its strategy to address energy security and Joemat-Pettersson mentioned that it was important that the country constantly looked to the future and strove to do more. In its next strategy, which the DoE intended to complete by the end of the current financial year, the department was set to increase targets to be achieved by 2030 for the reduction of the national energy consumption.
However, she mentioned that the department would be embarking on a consultation process with all stakeholders and once the draft strategy was released for public consultation, the public could engage with the department robustly.
“To support the effectiveness of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, we have published the regulations for compulsory energy management plans. I need to emphasise that we will continue to focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings with a particular focus on household appliances. We, therefore, encourage all stakeholders to play a positive role in saving energy,” Joemat-Pettersson pointed out.
This year, the campaign will focus on large public and private buildings, including retail complexes and the property market, and large residential and corporate developments. The Save Energy campaign aims to create awareness about the significant role that energy efficient buildings can play in reducing the demand on energy, saving a scarce resource, creating small enterprises, upskilling citizens and growing the economy.
So far, the department has already implemented other energy efficiency interventions such as energy efficiency allowances through the tax incentive programme in terms of Section 12L of the Income Tax Act.
Some initiatives through the Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management Programme continue with efforts focusing on reducing the electricity consumption associated with municipal infrastructure. For example, the DoE is targeting energy consumption associated with street and traffic lighting, retrofitting of buildings and improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment plants among others.
“We have successfully completed the roll-out of the energy efficient street lighting programme in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, and we have now embarked on a national roll-out to take into account the lessons learnt from the pilot project,” she said during her address.
Joemat-Pettersson further noted that the savings verified to date by various municipalities, primarily by retrofitting lighting in buildings, lighting-emitting diode street lights and traffic lights, the installation of smart meters and energy management systems, are in the region of 1 TWh from an investment of about R400-million. This proves the business case for energy efficiency.
The DoE is also currently in the process of introducing reforms like an energy efficiency appliance labelling standard and certification for energy efficient compliant buildings. Also, the department is collaborating with local development financial institutions, donor countries and other international partners to conduct energy efficiency audits and make recommendations to improve energy use and assist in cost savings and to contribute to more energy conservation.
The two main policy instruments driving the standards and labelling project are technical regulations that set Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for listed appliances and the introduction of an energy efficiency label that informs appliance users of the energy consumption level of appliances. This was achieved through a collaboration with key stakeholders, including the South African Bureau of Standards, which set the compliance test procedures, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications in development and promulgation of the MEPS, appliance manufacturers and the retail sector.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce that MEPS for 11 of the 12 appliances listed for the standards and labelling project have already been promulgated. MEPS for electric geysers are projected for promulgation during the course of this year.
“We have also finalised the label designs and developed a label guideline to assist suppliers with the dimensions of the labels. The new label design is based on the initial design in the relevant standards but with the Energy Efficiency logo at the top of the label. It should be noted that the new label will only be enforceable 12 months from April 1, this year, to give appliance suppliers ample time to switch to the new label,” the Minister concluded.