Commercial and industrial enterprises are constantly on the lookout for meaningful ways of reducing energy consumption for both economic and environmental reasons.
“With energy prices escalating and world-wide electrical power demand expected to double by 2050, the reduction of CO2 emissions to protect the planet from further climate change becomes increasingly urgent,” says Gys Snyman, vice-president energy efficiency at Schneider Electric South Africa.
He adds that Schneider Electric is responding with efficiency solutions that allow South African commercial and industrial operations to become involved in a new era of effective energy management.
“By combining expertise in information technology and energy management, Schneider Electric is uniquely positioned to address these energy challenges. There is room for energy optimism with the exciting opportunities that climate change urgency is creating. Improved energy efficiency and reduced operating costs can work hand in glove with achieving significant cuts in overall carbon emissions.”
Achieving energy efficiency is the fastest way to save money. Carbon energy efficiency cuts energy consumption and reduces carbon emissions.
“The competitive solutions that are available today provide quick payback across all installations, to the point where energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest, easiest and most effective way for governments, companies and citizens to address their energy issues.”
Snyman adds that energy efficiency helps governments to reduce their carbon emissions and meet their reduction targets. Support of the energy policy creates a platform for government and commerce and industry to manage the gap between energy production and demand while at the same time reducing energy bills.
“All companies that practice energy efficiency reduce their carbon footprints and meet the expectations of stakeholders with environmental concerns. Individuals can even introduce such practices at home. The simple fact is that today there can be no energy strategy without energy efficiency.”
Options include the integration of electric vehicles (EVs) into transport systems. It is a transition that cannot be ignored because the ultimate benefits are very significant, including reduced fuel costs, reduce traffic congestion, lower maintenance and cheaper fuel.
“The concerns over the infrastructure to support EVs are lessening,” says Snyman. “Recently, Schneider Electric was involved in the rollout of the first rapid charging network implemented in the UK. Charging points are being placed in motorway service stations across the country, allowing drivers to fully recharge a depleted battery in as little as thirty minutes.”
While electricity grids haven’t changed much over the years, carrying electricity from centralised generation plants to users in homes, buildings and facilities, they are today being revolutionised.
“Energy demand keeps increasing and carbon emissions need to be reduced. Infrastructures are ageing, overloaded or in need of heavy maintenance. Electricity is a major emitter but there is growth in renewable energy sources, which are by nature intermittent and by design distributed.”
Snyman maintains that networks have to become smarter to adapt to this changing and more complex environment. A smarter grid combines smarter supply (the efficient integration of renewable energy sources, flexible distribution), smarter demand (energy-efficient sites and homes, connected to the grid) and demand response to balance the two.
“With the integration of renewables, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and real-time energy management, power grid operators now face a new challenge: how to constantly adapt grids to make them safer, more efficient, more flexible and smarter.”
Everyone wants a safe and comfortable home. However, with energy prices rising, people keep a close eye on their power consumption as well. Schneider Electric solutions give users total control of their energy use, no matter where they are, while ensuring their comfort and security.
“Advanced technologies are only useful if people have the skills to implement them. Schneider Electric has therefore developed several programmes to enhance the knowledge of partners, students and the general public.”
A good example is the Schneider Electric Energy University, a free online educational community available to anyone involved in energy management. Snyman says it offers unbiased, up-to-date energy efficiency information.
“Frequently the only constant is change and this is never truer than in the energy management arena. The time for commercial and industrial enterprises to act is now, by embracing sustainability and all its aspects in order to stay ahead in the energy efficiency game.”