Businesses and industries could assist in the battle for energy security in South Africa by being more aware of their consumption, peak usage times and power-hungry processes. This awareness will not only help reduce the burden on energy but also help them save money and be more efficient. This is the view of Priaash Ramadeen, CEO and co-founder of The Awareness Company.
“By deploying technologies in buildings, such as commercial buildings, organisations, factories, hospitals, and other industrial operations, to monitor energy usage, businesses can gain deeper insights into their consumption. This data can then be used to reduce their consumption and drive greater efficiencies overall,” he says.
Once organisations have that first level of awareness of their energy consumption, they can use the data to determine their overall total cost of energy consumption and can optimise their operating procedures accordingly to save on costs, while exploring alternative sources to supplement their energy requirements.
“We are all aware of the severe constraints on South Africa’s energy grid, but what can each organisation and ultimately each individual do to mitigate this?” asks Ramadeen. “The answer is simple. By using technology like sensors to monitor energy usage across the value chain and operational assets in real-time and aggregating that data to create a broader awareness of energy consumption. While from a billing perspective there are already solutions in place, we believe that the awareness needed to ease the burden on the energy grid requires delving deeper into the actual consumption across equipment and different floors and overlaying that with other data points such as occupancy and weather information, to truly understand the impact your organisation has on the energy grid,” he says.
Optimisation, efficiency, and cost-saving remain big priorities for organisations across the globe, but this requires a clear starting point. “It is impossible to drive these efficiencies and optimise processes unless you have a data-driven starting point and a clear understanding of what needs to be changed,” says Ramadeen. “There is enormous value to organisations and communities alike to become more aware of their energy usage to mitigate some of the challenges we face in the country. It allows organisations and individuals to be more proactive around managing their energy usage and reduce the burden on the energy grid. This, in turn, allows industry to truly understand the nuances of the problem and anticipate potential issues before they even happen.”
He adds that there is a need to use data storytelling focusing not only on what is happening now but also on taking historical data and current data to unpack the trends and patterns that have led to the current energy situation the country is facing. “It is extremely beneficial when organisations take their internal data and augment it with external data to create deeper insights into existing challenges. This data can potentially uncover new ways to solve parts of the problem,” he says. “The data also helps you look into the future, allowing you to project and anticipate future challenges across a broad spectrum, including infrastructure maintenance requirements, security and more. Typically, energy consumption is looked at when there is a problem, and we believe that organisations can benefit by observing this continuously. This also needs to go beyond just a graph of consumption, which will ultimately enable an organisation to project costs, understand carbon requirements and determine their compliance levels.”
Ramadeen concludes that savings is just an aspect and that most organisations are striving to achieve early warning mechanisms. “This is where the real power of real-time data monitoring comes in,” he says. “It creates the operational understanding and awareness that organisations can use to proactively anticipate future events and respond accordingly rather than after the problem occurred. It gives a holistic view of the organisation, enabling for fast decision-making supported by in-depth data, and could mean the difference between success and failure.”