Facing up to the Energy Challenge and Leading by Example - A call to action

19 March 2015

Supported by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, senior government officials and the advisory committee on electricity, President Jacob Zuma announced that in addressing the energy challenge, government was launching an energy savings campaign starting with the presidency. He highlighted some of the initiatives government had already taken to save energy including installation of motion sensor lights and encouraged staff to switch off lights and other appliances which were not being used. Government committed itself to lead by example by setting targets to save R2 billion on energy consumption and R500 million on water consumption over the five-year period of the current administration. The private sector was urged to also engage in energy saving drives.

President Zuma said, ‘The economy has expanded, drawing on limited energy resources. While government will play its role, every single individual must contribute to the energy saving programme. We urge the private sector to also engage in energy saving drives. We encourage private sector energy saving mechanisms and government is looking to increase the energy efficiency incentives on offer.

As part of the campaign, the Department of Public Works (DPW) has been tasked with ensuring that all government buildings become energy efficient under the Green Building Programme. The Department of Energy (DoE) has concluded the Energy and Climate Change Strategy for the public buildings sector, which is to be tabled for Cabinet consideration. The two departments have partnered to carry out research to develop policy and standards.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said, ‘We have been tasked with ensuring that all government buildings become energy efficient to ensure energy saving measures are installed in all government buildings. In addressing the current energy challenges we have to expand supply but also have to better manage demand. We intend to cascade these programmes down to other levels of government working with provinces and municipalities as well as private sector. We need to move from intention to implementation.’

In similar vein, the National Business Initiative is also calling on companies to lead by example in saving energy during present constraints and in response to government’s five point plan, which includes energy efficiency. Through the NBI’s Energy Efficiency Leadership Network (EELN) many large companies have been leading in terms of investments in continuous energy efficiency improvement for a number of years. While our current energy constraints may be short term, energy efficiency is the first step in determining other energy solutions and technologies suitable for businesses in the long term as we anticipate escalating energy pricing, carbon tax and other regulatory drivers.

Through the PSEE programme, the NBI can provide companies of all sizes with various forms of support which is free in the case of small and medium size businesses and subsidised by 60% for large businesses. A number of large companies and industry associations have already offered their support and encouraged their supply chains and members to take up the PSEE offering. The NBI is part of the collective business response supporting government processes to stabilize our energy situation. You in turn have the power as businesses to extend the campaign to your clients, consumers and staff both at work and following through into their homes.

Government’s campaign is as much about the future as it is about the present. While there is a multifaceted approach to addressing both demand and supply measures to address energy constraints in the short, medium and long term, the measure which offers best opportunity in terms of short term, lower cost and high impact and sustainable solutions is energy efficiency. It remains the starting point which together with a clear audit of energy consumption and energy management plan will assist companies in their selection of additional energy supply solutions. The power is in all our hands to save energy. Visit our website www.psee.org.za to find out how through our hints and tips.