Aberdare ’s energy-saving victory

[caption id="attachment_116376" align="aligncenter" width="500"] WORK REWARDED: Aberdate staff and management are proud of achieving a rare certification after a concerted effort to save on energy[/caption]

Bay plant gains certification by slashing its carbon footprint and electricity use, writes Zandile Mbabela

THE Nelson Mandela Bay plant of national company Aberdare Cables has come out tops in a UK government- sponsored energy audit, having slashed its carbon footprint and electricity use by 10%.

Aberdare Cables was one of 155 Eastern Cape companies taking part in the UK-backed Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) project that helps companies limit their reliance on the national electricity grid.

The company scored high in the PSEE strategic energymanagement (SEM) audit last month, an achievement that helped it get ISO 50001 certification for energy management systems. Aberdare Cables – which was bought by the Chinese power and fibre-optic manufacturer Hentong Optic–Electric Company for R1.2-billion last week – has become the latest of 10 South African companies boasting the certification.

There has been a major push for companies to pay attention to their energy usage, not only to cut down drastically on costs but to also reduce harm to the environment. Group sustainability manager Andrew Rist said the company had been practising energy efficiency since the mid-2000s and would now roll out the certification to their Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg plants.

“The 48-million kilowatt hours [kWh] that the business consumes annually has a substantial financial and carbon-related impact,” he said. “As such, our three manufacturing sites [Port Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg] have over the years worked continually on becoming more energy-efficient.

“The PSEE programme seemed a fortuitous opportunity to utilise part-funding from the British government and involve professional energy consultants Rhino Lighting to coach us and bring both comparability and assurance to our energy-saving efforts.”

The company is looking at introducing green energy solutions, including solar and wind power for heat and energy generation. Nelson Mandela Bay companies that underwent the audit this year could see energy saving of up to 25%, according to PSEE auditors Rhino Lighting. Rhino Lighting managing director Heather McEwan said companies could save millions of rands in electricity if they paid attention to the smallest things.

“In most cases it includes what we call ‘low-hanging fruit’,” she said. “This includes basics such as putting timers on lights, not leaving [computers] and other electronics on standby mode and instead switching them off entirely, and setting the air-conditioning to 20°C instead of 18°C.” McEwan said such practices saved medium-sized enterprises more than R60 000 every year.

The PSEE programme is free to small-tomedium businesses and substantially subsidised for bigger companies. It has seen significant reductions in overheads by cutting electricity consumption. The audit identified air conditioners as the biggest electricity eaters, at 56%, while lighting and kitchen appliances used up 19% and 10% respectively.

This story appeared in Weekend Post on Saturday, 12 December, 2015