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SA needs to be smarter about energy

By Rayhaan Joseph
Johannesburg, 7 Nov 2012

South Africa is not smart when it comes to its energy consumption.

ITWeb’s Smart Energy Executive Forum 2012 examined energy consumption in the country and ways in which it could be made more efficient and smarter.

Years of cheap electricity, and resulting careless use thereof, has left SA in a predicament: as the country’s electricity needs grow, its capacity must also grow to meet this increasing demand.

With cloud computing, big data, virtualisation and mobile technology the hot topics in the IT industry at present, the energy required to power these megatrends is often not considered.

Quite simply, SA needs to be smarter about energy.

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The solution

There are two ways in which this could be achieved, according to Barry Bredenkamp of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).

The first is through contextualising the need for energy efficiency in the country. The second is through highlighting plans for better energy reduction opportunities.

At present, 84.9% of SA’s energy is generated through coal. Relatively little energy is produced through other means, with gas the second-largest producer, at 5.8% of energy generated.

Bredenkamp says the expense involved in using gas as a means to generate energy is a problem. He added, however, that the country’s nuclear capacity is growing.

Demand is highest in the residential and industrial sectors. Bredenkamp describes demand as the point at which the highest amount of electricity is consumed. As pertains to the reduction in residential demand, it can be easily reduced, according to Pieter Pretorius, 49M project manager and senior manager of strategic marketing at Eskom.

Pretorius states simply that residential consumption can be reduced by simply putting off what is not being used.

He adds that the gap between supply and demand is tight, and that it will change as new electricity generating programmes – which the electricity tariff increase are financing – are completed and Integrated Demand Management (IDM) programmes take effect.

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