Barry Bredenkamp, presented his view’s on “South African energy – crisis or opportunity” at the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber offices last night.

The function, a joint venture between the South African Energy Efficiency Association (SAEE) and the Energy task team for the Bay was exceptionally well supported by local businessmen and women from Port Elizabeth.

Bredenkamp’s opinion is that out of every crisis there will lie an opportunity –this is historically how paradigms shift and that in South Africa ESKOM is indeed in critical crisis in terms of balancing demand with supply presently  – “ Just last week we came within a watt of the grid collapsing as ESKOM had to turn to big business to reduce production so that the demand could be met.”

And it is not even winter yet. The memories of 2008 start to lurk.

However, Bredenkamp’s main conclusion was that South African’s need to go on an “energy” diet.  Gone are the days of cheap electricity and plentiful supply.

He goes on to add that we should be thinking in terms of using all our resources wisely not just energy – this includes water for example. So having a solar water heater might well reduce the electricity utilized – but does nothing to stop people using water – which in itself is a limited resource.

That said he argued for a holistic approach to energy efficiency – changing the lights say to low efficiency LED light’s might well mean less maintenance but maybe a person losses their job as a result.  On a positive note it can mean reduced load as less air conditioning is needed to cool the buildings.

There has to be a balance between jobs, high intensive energy users that cannot be expected to reduce their loads such as a smelter, and being energy efficient – in all a balanced approach to this energy diet is called for.  Energy in all forms – renewable, alternative as well as coal based, which is a given as the SA economy is based on it, should be utilized optimally.

Some things that might assist the man in the street with the diet are education programs and product labeling – we no longer need to understand the complex world of watts, voltages and frequencies when an appliance is labeled A through to G = A being the most efficient and G the least – assisting the purchaser to decide on the basis of capital as well as running costs over the lifespan of the product.

Ensuring that your home is run on a balance of energy mixes that suit the geographical area and climatic conditions – not all areas are ideal for wind and or solar solutions and measurement and verification – checking on consumption daily vs at the end of the month when it is too late to make any savings.

Bredenkamp left the audience with the message that South Africa is clearly in an energy crisis and the diet is necessary for our continued economic survival.

 

 

 

 

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