A watt saved is a watt shared

Amidst new communications technologies that are making our world smaller and enriching our personal lives, it is easy to forget that the energy spurring on this progress is not available to billions of our planet’s inhabitants.

May 11, 2012

Amidst new communications technologies that are making our world smaller and enriching our personal lives, it is easy to forget that the energy spurring on this progress is not available to billions of our planet’s inhabitants.

“This population does not fixate on status updates, RSS feeds, or texting while driving, as there are few personal cars to drive, and rarely a network to which to text. There is only a daily struggle to eat, develop their families, and improve their lives – without any meaningful access to energy and all of its benefits,” says Gys Snyman, vice president: Energy Efficiency at global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric South Africa.

Meanwhile, dependence on carbon-based economic growth is driving the most climate pressure exactly on those benefiting least from new technologies. “If the electric utility system is one of mankind’s most significant engineering achievements to date, creating a new and sustainable energy model needs to be our next triumph, and it cannot come soon enough,” he adds.

“At Schneider Electric South Africa, we believe these two issues are linked. Access to energy for all frees the intelligence and creativity necessary for developing a new energy paradigm. Through technological innovation, social policy, medical research, and more, each generation has left a legacy of improvement for its children – until now. Now we have one lifetime to dramatically change the way we create, distribute, and consume energy. Succeed, and our contributions will set a standard for millennia. Fail, and we will be the shame of our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

“So while we text, tweet, and find friends like never before, let’s not forget that the planet’s energy system is a closed loop. When coal dug in South Africa drives energy consumption in China to make goods for Europe, resulting in particulate emissions over Los Angeles, we are clearly all connected in one energy system. Therefore, a new approach to energy is a new approach to our progress as a race. Spend less today, share more tomorrow.”

Solving the energy challenge requires a behaviour change and new technological approaches. And since a true solution requires more than the latest component, it’s no wonder new intelligent energy companies are uniting systems, data management, and energy visibility in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago.

According to Carl Kleynhans, country president at Schneider Electric South Africa, the company’s response to today’s energy challenges is EcoStruxure. “It is an architecture that delivers active energy management from power plant to plug, across all the domains of an enterprise: data centre management, power management, security management, building management, and process and machine management – integrated and optimised for maximum efficiency.

“EcoStruxure is not a product but rather an approach to creating intelligent energy management systems.”

The solution allows users to “see”, measure and manage energy use across an entire enterprise, with guaranteed compatibility between the management of power, IT, process and machines, building control, and security.

“The fact is, with the EcoStruxure architecture you can achieve up to 30 percent savings on capital and operational expenses across your entire enterprise. When you use less energy for the same or better economic results, you win, your customers win, and the planet wins.

“Keep the savings, reinvest it, or distribute it to your shareholders, but know that when you deploy EcoStruxure your efforts are shared with those suffering from energy poverty. For areas in India and Africa, for example, this translates to access to education, modern medicine, and improved quality of life for potentially billions,” says Snyman.

Considering that five members of the European Union, plus Japan and South Korea, all use significantly less energy per person than the United States, yet their economies are strong, Snyman makes a very real and valid point.

“Individuals, corporations and countries need to work together and learn from each other to make a difference today,” he concludes.