Southern Africa EE workshop takes a holistic view

10-07-2009, Johannesburg , South Africa

As the demand for energy in southern Africa booms, the importance of managing the demand side is increasingly seem to be as important as the actual expansion of generating capacity. This is mirrored in numerous Energy Ministries across the region, who are charged with developing legislation and regulations for energy efficiency measures.

Against this background, the REEEP Southern Africa Secretariat and the Sustainable Energy Regulation Network (SERN) convened an Energy Efficiency Workshop on 9-10 July in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Workshop’s 68 delegates included representatives from the major energy and regulatory stakeholders in the region and international development actors, including the South African Department of Energy, the European Commission, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Ecofys, major South African municipalities, ESKOM (the South African utility), the National Business Initiative, the National Energy Efficiency Agency, civil society, professional associations and independent consultants.

The workshop had a wide-ranging mission to discuss how to promote energy efficiency (EE) in a southern African context:

  • Make recommendations on current funding models for rates and tariffs for EE.
  • Provide practical solutions for the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives.
  • Discuss measures to ensure that the structuring of the price of energy reflects the actual associated costs.
  • Stimulate an enabling environment resulting in the uptake of EE and Energy management measures in southern Africa.
  • Develop a proactive stance to overcome the lack of a collective effort from the various sectors.
  • Identify barriers to the implementation of energy efficiency and the development of practical policies to overcome these barriers.
  • Identify relevant players and stakeholders in the energy sector and how to engage them.
  • Develop a holistic approach to energy efficiency through practical, decisive and positive mechanisms.

The need for an approach focused on practical, realistic and feasible solutions was identified as critical in driving energy efficiency initiatives in the region.  The Workshop focused on discussing the current status of energy efficiency in southern Africa, the various financing and marketing mechanisms for energy efficiency and energy savings, Demand-Side Management (DSM) in South Africa, mechanisms regarding energy management as well as the presentation of various, local case studies regarding energy efficiency.

A vital component of the Workshop was the presentation of the experiences and mechanisms established by various European countries regarding energy efficiency and energy management. This provided a comparative backdrop against which the Southern African experience could be debated, with a view to determining whether the various implementation mechanisms would be suitable in the Southern African context.

The lively discussion brought up numerous interesting points. Currently, in Southern Africa, there is no regional policy or regulatory framework focusing specifically on energy efficiency, and energy efficiency initiatives are instead instituted at a national level. The role of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the RERA should therefore be strengthened to ensure that a collective effort is made at the regional level.

Correct pricing is another critical element. The discussion here included the so-called “California option”; creating a tariff formula which would be made up of half the revenue from electricity sales and half from electricity savings. This decouples revenue from sales and encourages utilities to make a profit from energy savings, thus promoting energy efficiency.

On overarching theme that emerged was the need to create an energy efficiency conducive environment in the region.  A holistic approach, integrating the various stakeholders and government, as well as the policy frameworks, standards and energy efficiency mechanisms, should contribute to the following:

Changing mindsets

  • Education, raising awareness, training and promotion of energy efficiency measures;
  • Dialogue and cohesion between governments, stakeholders, role players and the public; and
  • Skills development, adequate resources and job development.

The full Workshop outcome report is attached below.