MechChem Africa

‘Sustainable power’ and ‘renewable sources’ are appealing buzzwords often used in captivating phrases related to energy stability in South Africa. But the fact remains that these would be impossible to efficiently implement without first achieving energy efficiency, which is regarded as the ‘world’s first fuel’ by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Ndivhuho Raphulu, director at the National Cleaner Production Centre, South Africa (NCPC-SA), (the resource efficient and cleaner production programme of the Department of Trade and Industry, hosted by the CSIR, with offices in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban) delves deeper into the concept of energy efficiency and its impact on the local economy. He oversees the NCPC-SA’s efforts to promote the implementation of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) methodologies to assist industry to lower costs through reduced energy, water and materials usage, and waste management.

Energy efficiency is a tool for economic growth

Many homes in SA still have zero or very limited access to electricity, and energy efficiency is the most cost-effective means to reduce the need for capital investments in new power supply, thereby increasing grid reliability while achieving universal energy access more speedily. In slow economic times, this is the ideal opportunity for Eskom to capitalise to ensure greater return on investment.

Skills development and improved policy framework are fundamental

Without dedicated research and development (R&D) facilities that consistently advance better and more efficient technologies that adapt with the times, as well as sufficient suitably skilled professionals, even the most well-planned theoretical energy efficiency initiatives will fall flat.
For SA to improve its specialised skills offerings, a professional body should be established, and should be backed up by improved policy framework – where there is better co-ordination from government to include a new energy mix.

Energy efficiency can influence Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)

Broadly speaking, SCP is a holistic approach to minimising negative environmental impacts from production and consumption. SCP is relevant to SA – a country with a resource-intensive manufacturing industry that relies predominantly on coal for power. SCP is only possible through education and understanding, and energy efficiency awareness initiatives speak to the SCP goals of measurably changing a country’s unsustainable consumption and production patterns.

Stimulating regional business opportunities and infrastructural development

By strategically identifying regional business opportunities, government and the private sector can work in partnership to incubate and grow new energy efficient businesses. This in turn results in downstream benefits that lead to infrastructural development and socio-economic upliftment.
SA undoubtedly has the potential to become an energy-efficient nation. To achieve this, our collective efforts as government, businesses and citizens should start today.

For more information on the NCPC-SA and its programmes visit: www.ncpc.co.za

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Title: Editor
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