A lot of awareness has been created to date about global warming and environmental issues. Many advertising and education initiatives highlighting the benefits of energy efficiency were targeted initially at the ‘low hanging fruit’ options of energy savings. This was all in an effort to supply short-term solutions to the country’s challenges of load shedding and blackouts (which peaked in early 2008), and controlling the excessive demands placed on the national grid at peak times, by the residential sector.
However, in an average day the residential sector only uses 18% of Eskom’s grid capacity, except for peak demand times. Comparatively speaking, the industrial and mining sector combined, use 67% of Eskom’s grid capacity, classifying this sector as intensive energy users. However, it is also the sector that contributes to the majority of the country’s economy. Hence the focus for a sustainable and secure energy supply in South Africa, logically, lies with optimizing the energy use within this sector.
Information and education for intensive energy users has not been as accessible and forthcoming, as with the ‘low hanging fruit’ options that were directed to the residential users. There was a need to provide information to energy intensive users to identify and exploit energy optimization opportunities within their organizations.
In 2008, a number of leading industrial suppliers, led by ABB and Martec, formed an initiative to address this gap in energy efficiency education in mining and industry. Although each company has products and services offering useful energy savings, the benefits can be multiplied if they are employed as part of a wider systems optimization approach to energy saving.
The systems aspect being all-important in this initiative, ABB and Martec invited participation from other companies which supply key products that represent significant components in mining and industrial electrical energy consumption. Leading proponents of energy conservation in the industrial and mining sector were identified and invited to participate in adding a component of application, so that success can be seen through the concept of ‘lead by example’. Ian Langridge, from Anglo Technical, was the first proponent.
The initial seminar was enthusiastically received in October 2008. Based on its strength, an association was formed to expand the initiative into a series of countrywide seminars, taking the information directly to the end-user. Since Eskom plays a leading role in government’s drive to reduce electricity demand, Eskom DSM was invited to participate. Thus, the Mining and Industrial Energy Optimisation (MIEO) association was formed.