International oil and gas company ExxonMobil has recently launched an energy-saving guide for the plastics industry to demonstrate to major companies in plastics how they can better manage their energy consumption.
The guide, launched last month, is a practical approach designed to help with overall directives globally on how reducing energy consumption and a carbon footprint can benefit them, says ExxonMobil Europe, Africa and Middle East industrial marketing adviser Mohammed Mourad.
“It is aimed at energy-intensive industries, with ExxonMobil “committed to making people understand the importance of reducing their energy consumption.”
Local Energy Efficiency
Mourad explains that South Africa is now paying significantly more attention to what is meant by energy efficiency, with many companies and customers starting to implement energy management systems, and asking for information on how they can improve their energy consumption habits.
In addition, there is also growing local demand to embrace alternative energy forms, which Mourad predicts will increase and hopefully not be hampered by pending legislation.
Mourad expects that the energy efficiency movement in South Africa will only grow stronger in the next few years. “Power currently rests in an individual’s or a business’s decision to improve energy consumption – it is not up to government or pending legislation yet.”
Globally, especially in Europe, governments provide benefits for those complying with energy efficient legislation, as opposed to creating legislation that forces people to comply, he adds.
“After all, it is for your own benefit as an individual, a factory or a company. The best that governments can do is create a set of measures that would encourage more people to be aware of their energy consumption, and implement proper energy knowledge and systems.”
Knowledge of energy efficiency in South Africa is infrequent, but this presents an opportunity to create employment by creating jobs such as on-site consultants and experts on energy saving, he points out.
Mourad says experts, such as UK-based consulting engineers company Tangram Technology founder and MD Dr Robin Kent, are still scarce, with energy efficiency only recently becoming a priority for South Africa and other regions.
However, grooming young professionals to become energy efficiency experts is very promising and provides a significant opportunity for growth in the South African energy efficiency and management sector. “At least every [energy] plant in the country should employ an energy efficiency champion. That would be a good way to start.”
Energy Efficiency Culture
Mourad says the most challenging issue in the energy efficiency sector is specifically education and awareness in business and industry regarding the importance of keeping energy consumption levels to a minimum.
He adds that energy efficiency is “a culture, which does take a bit of time to develop”. As such, ExxonMobil’s energy efficiency guide is one way through which the company is trying to emphasise the importance and the practicality of being energy efficient.
“We are just starting to communicate with our customers to make them understand what is meant by energy efficiency policies . . . I see a lot of traction and interest from many companies, despite having only just started [educating them] on understanding, and more importantly, what is needed to implement energy efficiency.”
Another way to create an active energy efficiency mindset is by developing a simple guide to help citizens understand what can be done at home to reduce energy consumption. This guide would entail the simple measures that can be implemented to reduce energy consumption in households, which will ultimately have a significant impact on energy consumption in the country.
“There is definitely a priority to release such a guide to the general public but our business plans involve our looking at business-to-business entities first and addressing their energy consumption issues,” Mourad explains.
ExxonMobil has an integral role to play in leading awareness campaigns on energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption, owing to its worldwide expertise in the sector, Mourad concludes.