South Africa is ripe for the countrywide adoption of energy saving as well as energy efficiency technologies and methodologies as demand for electricity and its cost continue to steadily climb. New generation capacity, in the form of the Medupi and Kusile power stations now under construction, is still to be released.
However, it will take more than new generation capacity to provide a long term energy solution for South Africa. With this in mind, Schneider Electric South Africa believes its vendor-neutral online Energy University, which provides free and easy access to practical education on energy management across the board, is highly appropriate for the local industry.
“Our many years of experience as an international organisation involved in energy distribution and management worldwide confirm that energy consumption can be reduced by up to 30 percent through the implementation of new energy efficiency technologies and systematic, enlightened engineering practise,” says Gys Snyman, vice president for energy efficiency at global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric South Africa.
Adding that as the foundation for the worldwide adoption of an energy efficient approach is knowledge, education and training, Snyman says that Schneider Electric’s Free Energy University “is a highly practical and innovative means of ensuring that all future electrical engineers and electricians are aware of and trained in the energy efficiency approach to power generation, distribution and consumption”.
An e-learning website, the Schneider Electric Energy University offers foundational courses that encourage personnel employed within the electrical industry or students aiming to become involved in the industry, to become better equipped to deal with the energy efficiency and conservation challenges being presented today.
Snyman says that the Energy University site provides current information and professional training on energy efficiency concepts and best practice.
“Not only will students become proficient in energy saving, they will develop into more valuable employees for their companies with the capability to not only meet today’s energy challenges, but also anticipate and prepare for those of the future.”
The success of the Energy University has been such that more than 21,000 learners have registered since its launch in June 2009 and more than 45,000 enquiries have been received from 120 countries. Eighty five percent of users agree they would recommend a course to others, while 87 percent of enrolees agreed their classes were easily applicable to their fields and 90 percent said they intended taking another class.
Twenty-one new courses have been added to the curriculum in 2010 to increase the educational offering to 34. Courses are available in multiple languages – English, German, and Spanish, with French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Russian launching soon. Additionally, Energy University has now launched a fully translated version of the site in Chinese, making it the first online energy efficiency programme available in that country.
Courses added in 2010 include:
• Demand Response and the Smart Grid;
• Measuring and Benchmarking Energy Performance;
• Energy Efficiency Units and Concepts;
• Combined Heat and Power (Cogeneration);
• Energy Efficiency with Building Automation Systems;
• Financing and Performance Contracting for Energy Efficient Projects;
• Energy Rate Structures: Concepts and Unit Pricing;
• Energy Audits Instrumentation;
• HVAC and Psychometric Charts; and
• Industrial Insulation.
Each course can typically be completed in less than one hour and the added ease of an online platform makes learning convenient and accessible from any Internet-ready computer. The self-paced learning experience is enhanced by an accompanying quiz for success measurement and preparation for the certification to be launched in 2011. The certification verifies that a user has a broad understanding of energy management and is able to effectively engage in audit and measurement, prioritisation, selection, management and maintenance of solutions, and promotion of energy awareness.