The importance of energy efficiency as part of policy is increasing in many countries, subsequently making it important to develop and maintain well founded indicators to better inform policymaking.
This is according to Department of Energy (DoE) clean energy chief director Mokgadi Modise, who spoke at the eleventh yearly energy efficiency conference that was held last month at Emperors Palace, in Kempton Park.
“Information gained from these indicators will help policymakers to set energy efficiency targets and track progress towards these targets.”
Modise further elaborated in her speech, titled ‘Energy efficiency strategy, management, reporting and monitoring, and overview of carbon offset system’ that, energy use was expected to be reduced by 49% by 2030, provided all government departments, businesses and members of the public acted in the way they should regarding energy efficiency.
“Within this commitment, we make sure that we reduce energy use in undertaking the scenarios from the International Energy Agency perspective. This includes the projected 15% reduction from upstream methane reductions, 9% reduction from reducing inefficient coal, 17% reduction from investment in renewable solutions and another 10% will be from fossil-fuel subsidy reform,” she said.
The National Energy Efficiency Strategy
Modise pointed out that the first version of the DoE’s National Energy Efficiency Strategy was released in 2005 and ended in 2015. Based on the discussions and networking, she explained that the department “had gone back to the drawing board” and hoped to release the revised version of the strategy – which would include future implementation of initiatives and strategies – soon.
The publication of the regulations on the allowance for energy efficiency savings in terms of Section 12L of the Income Tax Act, as amended, came into operation on November 1, 2013. Tax incentives were introduced for businesses that could show measurable energy savings.
The incentive is available for savings in all energy forms, not only electricity. The Section 12L regulation also sets out the method for determining the quantum of energy efficiency savings, which is central to the requirements for claiming the proposed tax deduction. All energy efficiency projects that reduce energy use are eligible. Section 12L allowances can be lodged until 2020.
“The incentives are some of the tools that we are using to encourage stakeholders to put more effort into implementing energy efficient solutions into their daily operations,” added Modise.
She further pointed out that energy efficiency was an area that required capacity development, hence, the partnerships in the international arena to ensure that all options had been considered and revised within the South African context.
Department of Public Works (DPW) facilities management deputy director-general Jacob Maroga noted during the conference that the Green Building Framework initiative within the DPW included the Green Building policy, which aimed to build infrastructure bearing in mind water, energy and waste efficiency.
“For sustainable projects, the greening of facilities is imperative. Capital costs are a credible problem and we, therefore, want to package the renewable-energy programme so that it can attract investment from the international environment,” he said.
Danish Ambassador to South Africa Trine Rask Thygesen, referring to the Danish partnership with South Africa in the energy field, noted that energy efficiency could be accomplished only by strong political will, a focus on energy efficiency and awareness.
Meanwhile, voluntary coalition of South African and multinational companies National Business Initiative CEO Joanne Yawitch shared her reflections on the importance of sustainable development for long-term energy efficiency, stating that energy efficiency was the first step in addressing emissions, as it had huge financial benefits for the country.
“In South Africa, there is a passive receipt towards electricity in companies and households and, therefore, there is a lack of understanding on how to exercise control over this resource and minimise the use of energy.”
Yawitch explained that the opportunities businesses could pursue included the benefit of contributing to the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa, which had declined from 6% to close to 0%.
“To ensure that the GDP grows, we need to invest in new electricity infrastructure and we need to ensure that, before the infrastructure comes on line, growth can happen in an unabated, uninterrupted manner. Energy efficiency is one of the biggest solutions for this.”
Yawitch stated that for South Africa to get onto a growth trajectory, the increase in productivity per energy unit in terms of electricity use in the economy was a factor that should be set as a national objective. This would also benefit the climate and the national mitigation strategy, she added.
“A lack of knowledge and understanding of the technology options available is one of the barriers to the uptake of energy resources in South Africa. Our country requires disinterested technology solutions that come from disinterested expertise providers.”
Finance was cited as a barrier, although dedicated funds – such as those provided by South African banks, development finance institutions and the Investment Tax Credit – existed and had improved, the energy efficiency market was not operating as effectively as it could, Yawitch concluded.