New energy deal signals kick-off of EC power savings drive

(Port Elizabeth) – A NEW deal between two South African energy efficiency specialists – Powerstar SA and the Port Elizabeth-based Rhino Lighting – has signalled the rollout of a globally-patented range of products aimed at slashing the power bills of big business and industry.

GOOD NEWS: International Sales Director at Powerstar, Martin Stevens (far right), takes Rhino Group MD Brian van Niekerk and Rhino Lighting MD Heather McEwan through the company’s plant in Sheffield. (Image: Supplied)

The deal comes as electricity costs in the country continue to spiral, which in turn has seen businesses search for new ways of cutting costs amid stalled economic growth.

Rhino Lighting managing director Heather McEwan last week (September 27) announced the rollout to Eastern Cape businesses with a presentation to, among others, Mercedes Benz and Johnson & Johnson at the Border-Kei Chamber of Business.

Manufactured at Powerstar’s international headquarters in Sheffield in the UK, the solutions being rolled out are designed to deliver significant, guaranteed energy savings for clients. The range being rolled out nationally includes the latest innovation, Virtue – an energy storage system that can be integrated with any Powerstar Max or HV Max voltage optimisation system.

Used internationally by a wide range of industries and top brands such as the ASDA supermarket chain, Hilton hotel group and London Stock Exchange, successful Powerstar installations in South Africa include major food retailers, government departments, and hotel industry players – including Woolworths and Investec.

The most recent installation was completed at a leading alloy wheel manufacturing company in Port Elizabeth.

While the energy cost saving varies according to the project site, client type, nature of the business and power usage patterns, savings in excess of 25% have been documented. At the Manhattan Boutique Hotel in Pretoria, savings of 20.71% have been achieved following the installation of a Powerstar unit. In retail store installations energy savings have ranged between 7.7% and 12.8%.

At Woolworths Melrose Arch, for example, independent measurement and verification specialists Energy Cybernetics recorded an 8.27% energy saving over the period of a week following the installation of a Powerstar unit. Another verified energy saving of 12.3% was achieved on the load for the air-conditioning system following installation at the Investec headquarters in Johannesburg.

“Our company’s vision focuses on helping clients make their organisations more energy efficient using cutting edge-technology. A partnership with Rhino Lighting is ideal as we share the same vision,” said Powerstar South Africa’s owner, Edgar Antezana.

“This deal signals further tangible cost savings for big business by removing over voltage which is becoming an essential part of companies’ growth strategies as electricity prices soar. It also cuts their carbon footprint and CO2 emissions.”

McEwan said Eskom typically delivered electricity at higher voltages than was required.

“This is done to balance out losses that occur along transmission lines, and to ensure that the end user gets the minimum 220 volts required to operate machinery and equipment,” she said.

In order for the end user to receive this standard voltage, users situated closer to the transformers often received much higher voltages than they needed, said McEwan. Companies were paying for that additional voltage in their electricity bills and also felt the financial effects of increased equipment failure.

A 230V linear appliance using a 240V supply would take 4.3% more current and consume almost 9% more energy, while only achieving about half (55%) of its rated lifespan, said McEwan, referring to a statistic from the world’s largest technical professional organisation, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

McEwan said Powerstar was unique in that it was designed to ensure that savings could be achieved, regardless of the type of energy load it is connected to.

“We stand by the guaranteed savings provided on all Powerstar systems and will refund the difference if the saving in kilowatt-hours, which is calculated by the Powerstar engineers, is not achieved,” she said.

Savings could even be achieved on LEDs or VSD drives that had been installed to improve energy efficiency, said McEwan, who recently underwent technical training at Powerstar UK along with Brian van Niekerk, MD of Rhino Lighting parent company Rhino Group.

Outlining the installation process, Van Niekerk said the first step was the research and information gathering stage, which included a site survey.

“The data gathering process is critical in designing a fully engineered solution that is specific to a customer’s site load and tailored to their needs. The beauty of Powerstar is that it is not just an off-the-shelf solution.”

Once installed the human machine interface (HMI) would allow users to monitor the site performance in real time, said Van Niekerk.

“Such facilities are particularly important for JSE-listed companies required to report according to the Sustainability Reporting Index and those top 100 companies participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project.”

Also likely to affect industrial users are the national Department of Energy’s draft regulations on the registration and reporting of energy management for companies consuming more than 180 terajoules (TJ) as well as the submission of energy management plans for those using more than 400TJ per annum.