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Tuesday, 29 November 2016 10:33

Energy savings a "missed opportunity" for most SA businesses

After surveying more than 250 industrial sites, Energy Partners found that while the majority of businesses claim to have energy management strategies in place, only about 5% of them have had success in reducing energy costs. This according to Gary Fahy, Head of Client Development at Energy Partners, an energy management specialist that is also part of the PSG group of companies.

“This is a massive missed opportunity for most, as successful energy efficiency programmes typically reduce a company’s energy costs by between 10% and 30% - often even without the need for upfront capital investment,” Fahy says.

He adds that while most companies understand the impact that rising energy costs have on their business, most simply do not make energy savings a priority and those that do, often try to tackle the problem using internal people. According to Fahy, most such programs fail because these people are often burdened with energy savings on top of their core responsibilities, and also lack the skills, tools and time required to identify and implement projects.

Fahy states that outsourcing this task to a specialised service provider is often the most sensible course of action. ”Dedicated, skilled professionals are vital to energy management programmes if they are to succeed. Many businesses do not appreciate how complex it is to meaningfully reduce their energy consumption.”

“Many businesses require help with the operation of energy intense utilities like refrigeration, water heating and steam generation. These plants are typically not being run efficiently by the companies themselves, because producing steam, heating water or refrigeration is not core to their business and skillset. Handing this entire function over to a specialised service provider not only reduces energy consumption, but also frees up resources within the business, to focus on its core operations,” he states.

From there, Fahy notes that some service providers also have the resources to remotely monitor daily energy use patterns in a business. “Ensuring that simple things are being done, like lights being turned off and cold room doors being kept closed, is a full time job. The ability to regularly and accurately report on this enables a business to positively affect the behaviour of its employees,” he says.

Lastly, Fahy states that some energy companies, like Energy Partners are also prepared to invest their own capital in these projects, in return for a share in the resulting energy savings. This means that the business can save money without investing its own capital.

Utilising these strategies, Fahy states that Energy Partners has managed to save its clients in excess of R1.5 billion rand to date. “The adequate skills and resources to successfully run a company’s energy management programme produces positive results from day one, regardless of the size of the enterprise. Outsourcing this function to an expert makes business sense,” concludes Fahy.