International study verifies energy savings potential of Standards and Labelling Programmes – and SA is on track


The International Energy Agency (IEA) and 4E Technology Collaboration Programme (4E TCP) have released a report on the effectiveness of Energy Efficiency Standards and Labelling (EES&L) programmes. Labelling electrical equipment such as, among others, residential appliances, electric motors, streetlighting, etc. according to their energy performance helps consumers to make informed purchasing decisions, saving them billions of dollars on electricity and avoiding more than 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) reports that this international study has strengthened local EES&L programmes, through knowledge gained towards implementation, which are seeing success in South Africa in line with international findings.

The IEA report draws on nearly 400 documents and shows that the longest running EES&L programmes have saved approximately 15% of their country’s total electricity consumption. Around two-thirds of these savings are seen in the residential sector, while savings in the services and industrial sectors each account for one-sixth.

“This is exciting news for South Africa, as the study echoes the experience that we have had with our local EES&L programmes,” says Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager: Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications, SANEDI. A recent DMRE-SANEDI-UCT research report on electricity consumption in the South African residential sector shows that electrified households consume roughly 17% of the country’s total grid electrical energy.

SA on track for improving residential energy intensity

The country’s existing National Energy Efficiency Strategy (first published in 2005) included a target to improve residential energy intensity by 10% in 2015 compared to a year 2000 baseline. The mechanisms predicted for achieving this target included S&L of household appliances. Regulations requiring minimum energy performance standards and consumer labels for large residential appliances (including laundry, refrigerators, AC, and geysers) were introduced in 2015.

Bredenkamp says “research undertaken in 2019 concluded that our local S&L programme will reduce electricity consumption by 7,1 TWh by 2030, reducing residential utility bills in total by US$1.4 billion – $54 per household. The IEA report reinforces how effective these programmes are. These reductions bring benefits to consumers as well as lower emissions and lower energy demand.”

The report’s findings are drawn from evaluation studies covering 100 countries, including those with the longest running and strongest appliance policies, such as China, the EU, Japan, and US. It confirms that well-designed policies encourage product innovation and lead to economies of scale, which reduces the cost of appliances even without accounting for the efficiency gains or reducing the size or service of the appliance.

“Notably, South Africa is mentioned in this report. This is encouraging, given that we are the world’s 14th largest global emitter of greenhouse gases, because we rely on coal for energy generation,” says Ashanti Mogosetsi, Project Manager, EES&L Programme for SANEDI. 

S&L programmes seeing global success

Findings from the study speak volumes. Figures 1, 2, and 3 are drawn from the report and demonstrate the effectiveness of standards and labelling programmes. Figure 1 shows the proportion of national electricity consumption reduction percentage from S&L programmes in selected countries. Figure 2 demonstrates the annual avoided electricity consumption from these programmes (TWh/year). Figure 3 shows the annual energy reduction percentage in new-product energy consumption from EES&L programmes.

Figure 1: National Electricity Consumption Reduction Percentage
Figure 2: Annual Avoided Electricity Consumption (TWh/year)

“The report confirms that improvements to the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment are some of the lowest-cost options available today for reducing energy consumption and associated emissions. They show a typical society benefit to cost ratios of four to one,” says Bredenkamp. “These programmes provide net financial benefits to individuals and the community. Other benefits, include employment, product innovation, water savings, improvements in air quality and the reduction of public expenditure on health, add to the case for stronger and more widely implemented standards and labels.

“The evidence shows that EES&L programmes can deliver annual electricity demand savings equal to the annual production of renewable energy. Regular updates of EES&L policies are required to keep them in line with technological improvements, and to drive innovation in energy efficiency. This demands due diligence, such as industry consultation, and SANEDI is eager to participate in this process. To this end, South Africa has the started the process for S&L to be introduced to streetlights, electric motors and televisions; cost benefit analyses are at an advanced stage to prove this can work in the country” says Bredenkamp.

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