The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has sparked fears of a global energy supply crisis affecting electricity and fuel security. As the world’s third largest oil producer, uncertainty around oil supply from Russia has sent the oil price soaring.
Meanwhile, countries in Europe are scrambling to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, thrusting energy efficiency into the spotlight where it belongs. Energy efficiency will become the single most effective tool to remedy high demand and low capacity, or supply.
According to Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager for Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), owing to the massive infrastructure drives and unavoidable time frames required to ramp up local energy capacity, countries are once again waking up to the need to take demand off the power grid and are calling on businesses and the public to prioritise energy efficiency.
“This will improve energy security while saving consumers and businesses on energy costs in the wake of growing economic uncertainty, rising oil prices and other inflationary pressures weighing consumers down,” says Bredenkamp.
With winter approaching and demand expected to rise significantly for heating, Eskom is beginning to feel the pinch of rising diesel prices amidst a constrained global oil supply. The costs of soaring diesel prices will inevitably be passed down to consumers further down the line.
“By taking demand off the national grid and Eskom, electricity users can potentially lessen the chances of load-shedding and give the power utility room to continue critical maintenance on its power plants, whilst reducing the need to use diesel turbines when units trip,” says Bredenkamp.
Tips and methods for both commercial and residential consumers
SANEDI, which is mandated to promote and advance energy efficiency – has numerous tips and methods for both commercial and residential consumers on its website. SANEDI translates its mandate into projects that incentivise and support energy efficiency through tax and projects like the Bridging Information Gap Of Energy Efficiency In Buildings initiative (Bigee).
Mid-month fuel data released by the Central Energy Fund (CEF), has projected that fuel prices could reach R24.00/l for petrol and R23.60 for diesel. If the estimations bear fruit, South Africa will see the highest fuel price in history this winter.
At the same time, climate change will not pause as energy security takes precedence over sustainability. While countries mull over delaying the transition away from coal and other fossil fuels, energy efficiency (which reduces consumption) will continue to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions accelerating global warming.
South Africa’s first Energy Efficiency Strategy
Efficiency measures have been proven to be one of the least cost interventions against climate change, with multiple benefits for consumers.
South Africa’s first Energy Efficiency Strategy was published in 2014 to enhance energy efficiency practices and regulations across energy consuming sectors of the economy. The strategy recognises the economic benefits of improving energy efficiency which have been well documented since the first Oil Crisis in the early 1970’s. This occurred again in 1993 when the oil crisis thrust energy efficiency again under the spotlight, as a mechanism to offset constrained oil supply as tensions rose between the United States and Iran.
Since then critical partnerships like those between SANEDI and Collaborative Labelling and Appliance Standards Program (CLASP) have worked to implement new or revised energy efficiency policies related to the consumer label, quality and performance standards as well as to promote energy efficient household appliances and commercial equipment. CLASP is an NGO that focuses on appliance and equipment energy performance and quality, to mitigate and adapt to climate change and expand access to clean energy.