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ENERGY EFFICIENCY NTSELE ON ENERGY INTENSIVE USERS ‘Whenever electricity reserve margins are critical, intensive energy users are the first to be requested to cut back on usage.’ I n a competitive environment, the capacity for doing business and economic growth is linked to the supply of energy. Whether in the form of energies expended by the workforce or in the form of electricity generated from fossil fuels and renewable sources – it is a resource that drives the success and sustainability of the business sector. The 2008 experience of ‘the lights going out’ remains fresh in South African memories and since then changing perceptions of energy supply and demand have occurred. Various industry sectors are now following a new path of investment into back-up generation technologies and implementing aggressive on-site energy management and efficiency strategies. Charles Ntsele, chairperson of the Mining and Industrial Energy Optimisation Association (MIEO) in South Africa, expanded on the changing face of industry – stating that the urgent need to incorporate energy management strategies into every nook and cranny of business has now become clear. PASSIONATE ABOUT ENERGY OPTIMISATION Ntsele is passionate about energy optimisation not only in mining but in all spheres of business where rising energy costs continue to feature in boardrooms across South Africa. He explains that ‘fundamentally, the rise in energy costs impacts operating costs negatively. The South African industry in particular is accustomed to cheap electrical energy and its optimal usage was therefore never a norm in the past. This also contributed to equipment design that is not particularly focused on using energy Equipment design was not focused on using energy efficiently but rather on durability and capacity. Charles Ntsele in discussion with his PA. 56 efficiently but rather on durability and capacity. While the need to optimize energy usage is immediate, changing mind-sets in operating and designing equipment such that energy efficiency takes centre stage is going to take time.’ In overcoming these challenges, Ntsele advises: ‘As a starting point, mind-sets ought to be changed. This can be achieved by making energy efficiency a boardroom agenda with binding outcomes for senior executives and those charged with executing the resulting energy management plan. When such a plan forms an integral part of the business’s key performance indicators it becomes measurable and can then be improved upon.’ He explains that ‘this is one way of normalising the energy efficiency culture in organisations. Innovative equipment design that promotes energy efficient equipment must be encouraged and rewarded. This again must be driven at the board level where decisions are hopefully based on the understanding of the long term benefits of such technologies and not the short term thinking that is typified by capital expenditure concerns only.’ However, Ntsele says that ‘since the financial pain of electricity price increases is less severe than expected and as the implementation of the carbon tax has been postponed, energy efficiency projects have moved down the priority list and are less topical amongst decision makers.’ He explains: ‘This is evidenced in some instances by the reduction in investments on energy efficiency initiatives.’ Ntsele’s career has spanned 20 years in metallurgical research and development, consulting services, ESI AFRICA ISSUE 4 2014