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Author: Dr Eureta Rosenberg & Claire Janisch

( Article Type: Overview )

Energy is one of the most fundamental requirements of modern society. We rely heavily on energy, not only for our individual domestic and business needs, but for the country's economic development. The availability of abundant, cheap power in the form of fossil fuels has enabled the development of machines and systems that enhance the quality of life and increase efficiency and productivity. In fact, energy availability is often the difference between a â developed and underdeveloped context.

However, the manner in which we have obtained and used energy has caused a considerable amount of damage. There are many social, health and environmental impacts and costs that have not been acknowledged or paid for by those who have used energy or profited from energy supply.

Concerns are therefore growing about the impacts of the consumption of fossil fuels, including air pollutionglobal warmingwaste-disposalproblems, land degradation and the depletion of natural resources. Furthermore, cheap supplies of oil appear to be running out. These trends are likely to continue and even accelerate throughout the 21st century.

To address these concerns, attention is being focused on ways of saving energy in both supply and use. We now need to make more carefully considered choices as to how we produce and use energy in the future.


What can consumers do?

1. Effect energy savings

We need to be aware of the many opportunities to reduce the amount of energy we use. Any reduction achieved will not only be beneficial to our environment and society, but will also provide cost savings to the individual or organisation that makes the effort to reduce energy usage.

  • The majority of interventions will involve no cost or low cost with a payback period within five years.
  • Energy efficiency in industry helps to improve competitiveness. It has been demonstrated that one of the most cost-effective ways of maximising commercial profitability is the adoption of appropriate energy efficiency measures.
  • Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective methods of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions, thereby combating global warming and climate change.
  • Energy efficiency can also save water, since power stations use two litres of water for every unit of electricity (kWh) generated. For many ways in which to reduce your energy usage, see the Ecological Living Guide Section of The Enviropaedia.


2. Voice a demand for a wider and better choice of energy supply options.

In many countries consumers are able to choose a supplier of cleaner electricity or purchase at least some "green" power electricity produced with fewer or no emissions of harmful substances. This enables suppliers of "green" power to increase their capacity and reduce the demand for "dirty" sources of power, such as coal.


South African energy-supply options


In South Africa most consumers do not yet have the freedom of choice of an electricity supplier as Eskom currently holds a virtual monopoly position. There has been some progress in this regard as illustrated by an initiative by the Darling Independent Power Provider, which is developing a wind farm in partnership with the City of Cape Town to give consumers the choice to buy "green electricity".

The Electricity Regulation  Act allows others to compete with Eskom, but in the past, because of cost, most competitors have been unable to effectively compete. Eskom therefore currently generates about 96% of the electricity used in South Africa, mainly through its coal-fired power stations on the industrial Highveld.

Eskom also invests considerably in generating electricity from nuclear energy. To date, however, it has invested comparatively little in diversifying energy sources and commercially developing renewable energy options such as:




Associated Organisations:

Future Light , Beco Institute for Sustainable Business , BP SA , Bulgaz Convertors , City of Cape Town - Environmental Planning , Department of Energy , Eskom , Department of Trade and Industry , Durban Solid Waste Cleansing and Solid Waste , Spintelligent , Biolight , Savannah Environmental , International Institute for Energy Conservation - Africa , Kumba Resources , National Business Initiative (NBI) , Riso Africa , Nedbank Group , New Energy Technologies (Pty) Ltd , Programme for Basic Energy & Conservation , Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) Southern Africa Secretariat , Sasol Limited , Living Green , Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE) , SouthSouthNorth Trust , Chem-free Aqua , WSP Environment & Energy , International Technology Sourcing , I M Lighting , The Green Shop , Flexopower , African Windpower , Addicom , Green Life Store , eZee SA , Sunfor Technologies , ZM Pumps , i Power SA ve , Global Carbon Exchange , ELECTRIC BLUE LED CC , sustainableIT , Freefall Trading 115 , AdoGreen Recruitment , South African National Energy Association (SANEA) - , Greenability , Solarise Energy Solutions , Astronomical Society of Southern Africa - Dark Sky Section , Energywise Systems , SMA Solar Technology South Africa , Kestrel Wind Turbines , Exxaro Resources Limited , Nokia South Africa Ltd , MTN , Biofires cc , Energy Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology , Kwazulu-Natal Master Builders and Allied Industries , Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA) , Utility Management for Africa (UMFA) , African Climate Reality Project - Food & Trees for Africa , Blue North Sustainability (Pty) Ltd , Confronting Climate Change Initiative , Africa Focus Consulting