BY MARY KIEMA
Two hundred and thirty five participating companies, over 300 energy audits, 105 certified energy managers and 59 MW of energy savings translating to Sh10.2 billion. This is what the 10th Energy Management Awards (EMA) celebrated last week bringing together players to mark the major milestones in energy conservation in Kenya and the region.
It’s a whole new industry that did not previously exist. Energy is a primary industrial input and a major cost factor. But a little known fact is that the cost of generating new power is more expensive than the cost of saving. For every one unit of energy saved, you save three units generated.
In Kenya, energy cost and reliability is the biggest business hurdle. We currently have a total installed energy capacity amounting to 1759 MW and there are plans to enhance the country’s capacity to over 5000 MW. These plans feature a basket of energy sources that includes renewable sources and harness both old and new energy sources.
New projects such as Olkaria IV will be completed and in June this year an additional 140 MW will be added to the national grid. The country is also sourcing power through a joint project with Ethiopia that will bring in additional power and reduce the cost of energy. Vision 2030 promises to provide an installed capacity of 21,599 MW come 2031 but a short term cost and energy saving solution is required so that existing and upcoming industries are well supplied.
The Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (CEEC) which organises these awards is an example of a successful Public Private Partnership (PPP). It was set up in 2004 by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Ministry of Energy to awaken the consciences of industrial users who consume 60 percent of the current energy in the country. Through energy management, the centre offers a bridge that closes the gap between demand and the cost of energy by assisting companies and especially those in energy intensive sectors to cut down their power bill and consumption.
This is done through energy audits which incorporate various aspects such as flue gas analysis, boiler optimisation, use of energy efficient motors, lagging of steam pipes, use of VSD.
Energy audits also help companies look into alternative renewable energy sources such as mini hydro stations and the use of solar farms. The field is now extending into unchartered waters such as the incorporation of green building concepts in design, construction of new buildings and modification of existing ones. The audits are carried out at a subsidised rate by CEEC. While energy audits benefit individual firms, the country gains back electricity that would have gone to waste.
The awards were set up together with the centre and key institutions involved in energy production or supply were roped into the program. The idea was to encourage companies to save energy by identifying wastage points in their operations, plug in the holes and cut down on their operating costs. By awarding the most efficient energy users in different award categories, KAM hoped to create a ripple effect in the industrial sector. The awards therefore recognise firms that have done the most in conserving energy in their premises.
Companies serious about energy management need a working energy policy and a management team in place, including the involvement and commitment of senior management and involvement of finance teams in the procurement of energy efficient equipment.
To be considered for the overall EMA award, a company must have given some serious thought to energy conservation demonstrated through a clear policy and an action plan for implementing. The overall winner is determined by an independent jury panel that evaluates entrants’ achievements against a list of desirable actions. Smaller award categories exist such as; the best fuel saving firms, the best electricity saves companies, energy savings in the service sector and consistent high performance in energy saving. New entrants into the awards are also recognised.
A number of the categories also recognise the energy saving efforts of SMEs.
A similar initiative is signing the Energy Accord. Companies voluntarily enter into an agreement with the government to cut down up to 15pc of their energy consumption through certain measures. So far 25 local companies have pledged to do this.
The future of energy management in the county looks bright. It is not becoming mandatory to embrace energy saving concepts and more and more companies now have to adopt these principles. Kenya is currently leading in this field in the region and in another 20 years, we expect to see more.
We congratulate the winners this year and we envision that in another decade, energy efficiency and management will be embraced by all institutions in the country because energy consumption consciousness will be deeply entrenched in our societal fabric.
(The writer is an Executive Officer at the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and coordinates the activities of the Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (CEEC). She can be reached on Mary.Kiema@kam.co.ke)