HomeIndustry SectorsEnergy EfficiencySA industry energy efficiency project wins international award

SA industry energy efficiency project wins international award

The SA Industrial Energy Efficiency Project has won the International Energy Project of the Year.

Awarded by the Global Association of Energy Engineers, the accolade is the highest international recognition an energy programme can achieve. The SA Industrial Energy Efficiency Project (SA IEE Project) was entered by industry representatives. This was after the project was selected in November 2019 as the winner of the South African Energy Project of the Year by the Southern African Energy Efficiency Confederation, which is an official Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers.

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The SA IEE Project, led since 2010 by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA), received the award in recognition of its efforts to transform the energy use patterns in the South African industry, and mainstream energy management systems across economic sectors. Since its first implementation projects in 2011, the IEE Project team has helped industrial companies save 6.5TWh of energy, translating to a cumulative cost saving of R5.3billion for the companies.

The AEE’s International Awards recognises achievements in energy from around the world. According to the organiser’s official communication, the awards identify those who exemplify the very best in their fields. It recognises the important work that is being done by individuals, organisations, agencies and corporations in the energy field.

Energy efficiency can result in significant economic savings

According to the AEE Awards criteria, the Energy Project of the Year – International: “Recognises an energy management project developed and installed outside the US. The project is often recognised for its first-of-a-kind approach in the country where it has been installed. However, even more, conventional projects with significant success (savings and/or visibility) are also encouraged.”

The project also includes awareness-raising in its activities, as evidence strongly supports the idea that sustained energy savings are brought about through behavioural change. This active communication approach made the project an even strong candidate for the international awards which encourages projects with “significant success in savings and/or visibility”.

The IEE Project is currently in its second phase after the success of the first phase from 2010 to 2015 allowed UNIDO to secure Global Environmental Facility funding from phase 2 which is set to run until December 2021. Other IIE project phase 2 partners include the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition which funds the NCPC-SA, the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and its agency, the South African National Energy Development Institute.

NCPC-SA spokesman Alf Hartzenburg said what sets this projects apart is that it partners with and equips industry to tackle practical energy management in companies of all sizes. “Through expert-level training of industry professionals, demonstration of actual impact and methodologies aligned to international standards ISO50001, the project partners have ensured that both the skills and the appetite exist to implement energy management.

Energy efficiency measures could help the post COVID-19 economic recovery

“The benefits are made clear in the energy savings, which result in direct financial savings on the utilities and other energy sources, and we don’t leave the companies to go it alone, but support them with skills and financial linkages, where possible,” explained Hartzenburg.

He believes the return to operations post-lockdown offers companies an ideal opportunity to consider changes that will ultimately save them operating costs, thus aiding in the recovery process and long-term sustainability.

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“SANS/ISO 50001, the energy management best practice standard, actually saves companies money. We are offering companies technical support to comply with this standard, and even some financial support if they want to apply for certification through SABS,” said Harzenburg.

“Energy savings, particularly in a fossil-fuel based economy such as South Africa, have a direct climate mitigation benefit – which is why the GEF has funded our second phase.” Based on internationally accepted calculators, the NCPC-SA reports that energy saved by companies through the IEE Project has mitigated 6.4million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent since April 2011 when the first savings were measured.

Energy management training is still being offered by the NCPC-SA, which has already trained more than 5,000 professionals at a technical level and 200 people to be IEE experts. The IEE Project has a strong focus on gender mainstreaming and promoting the participation of women in energy. To date, 43% of the professionals trained through the project were female.

The National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa is a national programme of the South African government that promotes the implementation of resource-efficient and cleaner production methodologies to assist industry to lower costs through reduced energy, water and materials usage, and waste management.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.