Harnessing the power of energy audits in an increasingly competitive energy market place
The difficulties businesses face responding to short- and long- term energy supply challenges are not going to disappear any time soon. This is the view of Dr Dino Petrarolo, Vice President for Commercial and Industrial business at NRG Renew Africa. According to Dr Petrarolo, businesses must develop a strategic energy plan transforming energy supply issues into competitive advantages, to ensure sustainable growth and outpace existing and potential energy challenges.
“The energy landscape is fundamentally shifting, and while in South Africa we view this through the context of load-shedding and above inflationary increases, the reality is that energy consumption is changing. The emergence of Smart Cities as well as increasing pressure from consumers and business for optimum integration of products and services, are redesigning the way we access our energy turning distributed, or localized, generation into a reality,” explains Petrarolo.
A more competitive energy industry is emerging; South Africa’s electricity production is moving away from coal and with that, renewables are emerging as highly competitive alternatives that offer more predictable energy solutions. Therefore, CEOs who understand their company’s energy consumption will be in pole position to leverage the shifting energy landscape to their advantage.
Businesses today require reliable, cost-effective and rapidly scalable energy solutions to enable manufacturing and service-oriented agility. Identifying opportunities to create energy savings, specifically energy efficiency from large industrial customers will ease pressure on the grid for everyone’s benefit. The reality is that there are many businesses in South Africa with energy bills in excess of R35million per annum, so a thorough internal audit followed by the development of energy efficiency improvement plans is more than often a necessary step in effective energy management.
Many companies are unaware of the vast number of opportunities to improve their energy footprint and create energy efficiencies. “But understanding the steps and having informed knowledge of the best energy solution for their business, be it photo-voltaic (PV) systems, solar thermal energy solutions or energy savings solutions is often something most businesses don’t have the internal resources to quantify or manage,” says Petrarolo.
“Knowing which questions to ask is often the initial hurdle,” explains Petrarolo. “Issues such as performance monitoring; where are your greatest strengths and challenges, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, resolution of faults, productivity analysis and risk assessment and analysis are all key to develop a comprehensive understanding of where energy efficiencies can be achieved and importantly, where competitive advantages can be leveraged.”
Existing energy reporting, regulation 142, already requires large companies to provide energy data to the energy department for regular collation. However, given the latest draft regulation on ‘Registration, Reporting on energy management and submission of energy plans’ issued by Energy Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson earlier this year, companies are going be required to present much more comprehensive levels of reporting to the energy department in the future.
“Globally, most energy efficient industrial & commercial sites are those that invest heavily in detailed energy monitoring of their processes and sub-processes. Measurement is almost always a driver of improved leadership decision-making and organizational behavior. By investing in monitoring and reporting processes, organizations will not only be more proactive with respect to changing regulations and legislation, but will also have the means to focus their energy improvement efforts,” says Petrarolo.
Taking control on current energy usage, efficiencies and potential risks will stand companies in good stead for the evolving regulatory landscape requiring energy reporting.