ABOUT 80% of companies globally prioritise the bottom line over energy efficiency, a trend that could cripple their ability to grow in a climate with an already limited energy supply, according to an international survey conducted by US environmentalist and former vice-president Al Gore, and presented in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
The figure is based on an international survey conducted on companies listed on stock exchanges abroad – and it could be even higher in South Africa.
“We are not as aware of the importance of energy efficiency as other countries are,” said energy expert Prof LJ Grobler at the Mining and Industrial Energy Optimisation seminar held at the Radisson Blu hotel yesterday. Grobler is president of the Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency.
He said current global trends in energy supply and consumption were unsustainable – environmentally, economically and socially – and companies needed to adapt their processes.
He said due to limited energy and water supplies, rising energy costs, carbon taxes and the impact of climate change, companies needed to start looking at other energy alternatives.
“The question is how do we grow our industries? The answer is to push production, but how do you push production when energy is scarce? The companies who figure out how to be energy-efficient and still are able to push production are the ones that will thrive.”
Companies should learn the importance of sustaining and growing their business in the new energy reality. “To grow you need more power. If you want to increase production this is the way to go. Industry will soon start to see the role energy efficiency has to play. Soon we will find investors not willing to invest in your company if you are not energy efficient.”
“CEOs and CFOs said they would not spend money to make their factories more efficient because there is this need to impress shareholders who are interested in the bottom line and in profits. This is a mindset that needs to change.”
To become more energy efficient, he advised firms to monitor power consumption and make plans to start saving based on when usage peaked.