PSEE energy-efficiency initiatives deliver electrifying results across the board

03 December 2014

As the cost-saving benefits of the interventions of the Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) programme become more and more evident, an increasing number of businesses are warming up to the idea of energy efficiency. With savings that run into the thousands for small businesses and into the millions for medium and large companies, it becomes difficult to ignore the potential impact energy efficiency could have on your business. 

As a result, the PSEE is making good progress in achieving their targets in terms of the number of businesses assisted with around a third of the targets in respect of large, medium and small businesses already reached. However, we would like to urge you to make use of this limited opportunity to get free or subsidised energy efficiency support for your business. Contact us on 080 111 3963 or visit our website –

The recent ‘Power to Save’ print, radio and online campaign generated a healthy spike in enquiries, with its powerful reminder to businesses that the power is in their hands to save energy and costs. It is a message that cannot be emphasised enough in the face of the challenges of ever increasing energy costs and threats to energy security, again illustrated by the current power supply shortages. Substantial savings can often be generated through no-cost actions – like simply remembering to switch off lights and office machines – or low-cost modifications, such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives. This will also assist in reducing the demand on the national grid.

Almost 70% of the companies that have signed up with the PSEE are from the Western Cape and Gauteng, with a significant increase in the number of companies from KwaZuluNatal and the Eastern Cape. Businesses in the rest of the country are also slowly but surely picking up the pace. 

The following case studies illustrate some early results and potential savings identified through strategic management interventions and on-site surveys undertaken through the PSEE: 

Case study #1: Woolworths 

Despite the fact that Woolworths has been actively saving energy and reducing carbon emissions for quite some time now, they requested the PSEE to conduct energy audits at three of their distribution facilities. It turned out to be well worth the effort: for just one of their new projects the survey revealed that an initial investment of R556 000 would translate into a massive R14 million saving over the next 10 years. This means that the investment would be recouped within the first year, freeing up well over R13 million to plough back into the business. 

In addition, Woolworths engaged more than 100 of its suppliers to participate in energy audits, fully paid for by the PSEE. These comprised both medium-sized suppliers and small suppliers across various industries including food, marketing, clothing and non-trade procurement. 

Not surprisingly, Woolworths’s progress to date has established them as one of the leading South African companies in this initiative. 

Case study #2: Zimmermann & Jansen South Africa

Zimmermann & Jansen South Africa specialises in the manufacture of heavy-duty valves used in the petrochemical, iron and steel markets. It also has a service division that specialises in supplying mission-critical valves and control systems in the oil, gas and power generation markets. 

A PSEE-funded site survey determined that Zimmermann & Jansen could reduce its annual electricity costs by at least R172 000, while dramatically reducing its carbon emissions. Over the next five years, this translates into approximately R1 million in savings on electricity when one takes into consideration future electricity cost increases.

“We are delighted with the energy efficiency improvements and the cost savings. Zimmermann & Jansen has a strong reputation for its engineering expertise, has market-leading brands and technologies, a good aftermarket business, new products under development and strong customer relationships. Now we can add sustainability and an improved carbon footprint to the mix too, important considerations for any business wanting to be a more environmentally responsible citizen,” adds Hennie Sonnekus of Zimmermann & Jansen.

Case study #3: Early results from the plastics sector

The hydraulic injection moulding machines at a plastic injection moulding plant accounted for roughly 50% of the company’s annual energy consumption of around 3.5 million kilowatthours (kWh). A PSEE-funded energy audit identified a number of activities that could save the company more than R700 000 per annum in a matter of months. 

These activities include: 

  • no-cost behaviour-change initiatives which could lead to savings of around R30 000 per year; 
  • the installation of barrel insulation on the injection moulding machines at a cost of less than R50 000, producing an annual saving of more than R100 000; and 
  • the installation of a master controller to better regulate compressors during peak and off-peak periods, requiring an investment equal to the potential annual savings in a single year.

Case study #4: Results from the wine industry

A PSEE-funded survey at a family-run winery in the Stellenbosch region, with a local and international customer base, has identified the biggest saving opportunities in the water cooling and associated pumping system

For example, it was recommended that instead of controlling the flow from the water circulation pumps by partially closing some of the butterfly valves, the valves should at all times be fully opened and the flow controlled via a variable speed drive. The cost of the pump system optimisation would be recovered in one year through savings that could be achieved. 

Should the estate implement all the recommendations from the report, they could save more than half a million rand per annum over the next ten years. 

Case study #5: Medical healthcare industry results

A company in the medical healthcare sector, with a total electricity usage of around 3.5 million kWh per annum at a cost of just under R3.5 million, signed up for a PSEE-funded survey. The results revealed that the company could save almost R40 million over a ten-year period for an initial investment of less than R10 million. This could be achieved through a combination of 

  • managerial and organisational developments (e.g. implementing an energy management policy and strategy); 
  • tariff-related actions (namely power factor corrections in the laboratory); 
  • revised energy conservation and operating procedures (e.g. computer switching-off procedures); 
  • energy-efficiency investments (such as replacing lighting fittings and installing ceiling insulation); and 
  • renewable electricity generation by means of solar power. 

Should all the recommendations be implemented, it would lead to a total carbon footprint saving of around 2 tons of CO2 per annum – translating into an impressive reduction of 61%! 

Get the PSEE working for you today

There are many more examples to emphasise the fact that, irrespective of the industry in which you operate or the size of your business, the PSEE can help you become more energy efficient, reduce your carbon footprint, and save substantial amounts of money

Although we are particularly keen on helping businesses in the transport, agriculture and agri-processing, commercial, industrial buildings, and industrial sectors and associated sub-sectors due to their energy-intensive nature, we encourage all businesses to contact the PSEE for assistance

We would also advise you to do so sooner rather than later: as mentioned earlier, we can only assist limited numbers of small, medium and large businesses respectively. Make sure you get in touch with us before we reach our quota.