Africa’s automotive manufacturing hub in the Eastern Cape, is at the forefront of reducing the country’s carbon footprint.
The environment is not the only beneficiary as power intensive manufacturers have begun to reap significant financial rewards of Cleaner Production programmes, spearheaded by the AIDC Eastern Cape, a subsidiary of the Eastern Cape Provincial government mandated to assist its automotive industry become more globally competitive.
The AIDC has had a massive impact – reducing the overall energy consumption of the manufacturing centre of Nelson Mandela Bay (including Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch), by a whopping 56.86 GWh over 3 years which is the equivalent of power supply to 4 307 households per annum.
It has also identified, through free energy audits of Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers during 2013, a further potential saving of 1 GWh. These projects are yet to be implemented.
Moreover the sector in that region, since 2010, has enjoyed a cumulative saving of R26 million and AIDC Eastern Cape Supplier Development Manager, Lance Schultz points out at these are sustainable.
“The energy crisis and higher rates has forced companies to completely re-look and sometimes re-invent energy plans. Now these reformed and more carefully monitored ways of doing business is not only mitigating the high power costs, but increasingly their levels of production efficiency,” Schultz said.
“With the government having set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 42% by 2025 automotive suppliers will be under constant pressure to align but much has already been achieved in a relatively short time .”
Schultz says the AIDC EC is involved in a new partnership with the National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) to develop and implement the ISO 50001 energy standard in various companies across the automotive sector in the Eastern Cape.
“With the implementation of ISO 50001, companies will have to monitor their energy very effectively in order to keep certification and it is just a matter of time before ISO 50001 becomes a requirement for all manufacturing businesses,” Schultz says.
Part of the Eastern Cape’s success in energy conservation stems from a dynamic partnership between the AIDC, NCPC and Eastern Cape Automotive Cluster with regional companies eligible for free energy audits.
The AIDC has also acquired an electrical power analyser to conduct these energy surveys themselves in order to engage on a higher level with the auto cluster companies. A number of these surveys have been conducted across Tier 1, 2 and 3 automotive suppliers in the Eastern Cape with savings of over 1 GWh identified.
“The Cleaner Production programme has provided very tangible results for the environment and industry and the AIDC will continue interact with as many companies possible to ensure that the auto sector supports the vision for the Province to be the capital of clean energy for the country,” Schultz said.
Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Eastern Cape MEC Mcebisi Jonas said the green economy was a priority.
“The department has enhanced its economic planning and research capacity and has successfully used this to promote the province as a hub for innovation, renewable energy, and a rapidly growing green economy.”
Noting catalytic converters and alternate energy, including the manufacture of Photo Voltaic Cells, Jonas said several industries had recently made their home in the province.
He said the department of energy required 26% of the country’s energy mix to consist of renewable energy by 2030.
“Of the national allocation under the National Integrated Resources Plan, 67% of the country’s new alternate energy needs will be generated in the province through 11 wind farms and a solar photo voltaic farm,” Jonas said.
WESTERN CAPE STUDY
The AIDC EC has initiated a study in the Western Cape to establish whether a sustainable long-term strategy for renewable energy solutions is feasible. The study is being completed with the assistance of local suppliers and international universities.
The feasibility study will assess the economic viability of substituting conventional energy supply from the grid with stepwise integration of renewable resources. Different options of renewables as a single component or as a combination of several ones will be investigated and evaluated to derive the final decision for best adopted technology. If the results of the feasibility study indicate that the proposed venture is economically viable the development of a business plan will commence.
The feasibility study will focus on establishing possible benefits of energy production in the form of wind, solar and biomass for bioenergy as a sustainable energy solution in the Western Cape.