During the generation of electricity more than half of the energy produced is lost to inefficiencies in power plants, transmission and distribution systems, lighting, transport systems, heating and cooling of homes and buildings.

This creates a vast resource that can be tapped into by making generation, delivery and use of energy more efficient.

The potential for energy efficiency is high and a study by McKinsey and Company1 has shown that 23% of the energy demand by 2020 in the US could be met by energy efficiency. Further to that, another study2 has also shown that energy efficiency costs about one third as much as building new power plants (Figure 1). Indeed it has been reported that without energy efficiency the US would have needed to build twice the number of power plants that were constructed since 1970.

In the context of Kenya, the strain on the grid reduces resilience and reliability of the grid and this would explain the power outages (system failures) associated with the rainy season and hot days alike.

Sectors

Globally, investment in energy efficiency has been diverse across countries, as 52 well as across sectors. The objective and impact they have had has also differed. However, they all have certain features in common in that they target:

(i) regulatory aspects (building codes and standards)
(ii) labelling and information
(iii) financial incentives

Historically, energy efficiency in Kenya has focused on the industrial sectors (such as motor vehicle, cement, and food manufacturing) which utilise energy intensive appliances, lighting and machinery. However, energy efficiency cuts across various other energy consumers, such as transport, commercial buildings and home owners.

Barriers

Financial: The upfront costs associated with energy efficiency upgrades represent one of the most significant barriers to undertaking energy efficiency. Technical: Some energy efficiency or clean energy opportunities are not well suited to a given industry’s processes. In other cases process related technical constraints affect the extent of implementation.

Institutional: Energy is a small component of the cost of production in most industries. Only in energy intensive industries such as cement, chemical and food manufacturing does energy cost represent more than 3% of the industry cost. In reality this offers no incentive to devote organisational resources to pursuing energy efficiency. Regulatory: Regulation may fail to fully reward the benefits associated with energy efficiency, causing a lack of pursuit of energy efficiency opportunities.

Opportunities

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a form of distributed generation whereby thermal energy (typically steam) and electricity are generated from a single fuel source.

Equipment retrofit/replacement has been widely used to promote energy efficiency. Some of the equipment includes heat/power generators, lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

Process improvement and optimisation is described as an overhaul process change that requires less energy for a similar level of manufacturing output or an adjustment to the manufacturing process that increases energy efficiency.

Research and development focusing on developing new energy efficient technology or clean technology and processes that could be commercialised. Smart grid technology is a technique used by many utilities around the world. This technology uses electronic meters to reflect Time of Use pricing……

Click here to view the full article on our digital platform.