[Column] Phyllis Wakiaga: Promoting sustainability through energy efficiency and conservation
Energy Efficiency might sound like ‘ Board Room speak’ to many, but what is it really?
It can be an action as simple as you switching off the lights when you leave a room and opting to use natural light during the day. It can also be as broad as a company finding ways to re-use its energy resources during its operations to eliminate energy waste.
Looked at simply, energy efficiency and conservation means fostering the use of less energy to produce goods and services without compromising on quality and quantity. Specifically, energy efficiency refers to the use of less energy to perform a given task whilst attaining the same level of output, for instance, replacing ‘normal’ bulbs with ‘energy savers’. On the other hand, energy conservation refers to the use of less energy by reducing the output, for example switching off lights when not in use.
The government, through the Kenya National Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, seeks to reduce the national energy intensity by 2.8 per cent and achieve a 30 per cent carbon dioxide emissions reduction by 2030, relative to businesses as usual emissions. To realize this, the government is focusing on households, buildings, industry, agriculture, transport and power utilities.
The use of energy efficiency technology and the change in human behaviour are two critical actions in achieving our energy efficiency and conservation goals. For households, it means replacing incandescent bulbs and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) with Light Emitting Diode (LED), switching off appliances when not in use, use of efficient appliances and proper setting of refrigerators, among others. For industry, it means using energy-efficient motors, LED retrofit, use of efficient pumps, fixing air leaks, tuning up boilers, heat recovery, thermal insulation, fuel substitution and energy management systems.
There are immense benefits for industries to take up energy efficiency and conservation measures as demonstrated during the 16th Energy Management Awards, held last week.
Manufacturers consume a large proportion of the available commercial energy, which is costly. By adopting these measures, they can reduce energy usage, in turn, reduce operational costs resulting in a competitive sector. Increasing the competitiveness of local industries will encourage the growth of SMEs through increased productivity. This will also create power demand for the current installed energy capacity. The verified annual energy savings presented during the award’s validation process stands at over 32.8 Gigawatt hours with the potential cost savings of KSh 259.8 million.
Additionally, it reduces demand on the power grid. This enables deferrals on investments towards the construction of new power generation plants. For instance, if we can free up say 300MW through energy efficiency, then there is no need for setting up a new plant to cover the freed-up power, immediately.
Third, it results in improved energy security and slows down the depletion of natural resources by cutting down dependence on imported oil, gas, coal and other energy sources. Reduced energy consumption through energy efficiency lowers dependence on natural resources such as geothermal and hydro, hence lower their depletion levels.
Fourth, manufacturers consuming above 180,000kWh per year end up complying with the Energy Management Regulations, that requires them to undertake an energy audit after every three years and implement the recommendations. Energy audits are an inspection, survey and analysis for energy conservation and efficiency in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output.
The audits help manufacturers understand the present use of energy (both electrical and thermal), identify areas of energy wastage, and recommend measures that can be implemented to reduce energy usage and costs.
A recent study undertaken by Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) on sampled industries that have undertaken energy audits showcased that an energy audit investment of KSh 600, 000 has led to a saving of KSh 6.3 Million annually. This demonstrates the potential and proven business case that energy efficiency adoption has for industry.
Implementing energy efficiency and conservation measures is a critical step in promoting our sustainability culture in the country. It all starts with simple actions, such as switching off appliances that are not in use and changing the type of bulbs we use, as we transition to large scale initiatives at the workplace and factories.