Energy-saving technologies consist of a wide range of product, systems, and components which assist in overall energy reduction, through generation, increased efficiency or novel processes. Products which assist with the reduction of emissions, the conservation of water and the promotion of natural alternatives (such as natural light or free-cooling) are also included in this sector.
The energy-savings technology sector is primarily driven by the commercial and residential sectors, with the majority of technologies applying to these users. There are a number of generation technologies, such as systems to improve the efficiency of terrestrial power distribution, which is typically either implemented or controlled through government policy.
Energy-efficient technologies are used throughout the renewable energies discipline, as innovative systems are required to implement alternative energy sources onto national grids. These systems also require storage and power regulation systems, which have unique requirements not found in current commercial applications. Wind power generation is a good example of such an industry where energy-efficient power conversion technologies are required in order to maximise the realisable benefits. These products include sophisticated power inverters, rectifiers and storage techniques.
Commercial applications of energy-saving technologies are primarily centred on improving the energy efficiency of a residential dwelling. In the majority of countries, heating systems consume the majority of energy in a typical household as this is required for heating, cooking and the production of hot water. There are many systems to intelligently manage such systems internally, such as smart appliances, household energy monitors, intelligent metering solutions and timing controls for devices such as electric hot water geysers. The commercial sector is one of the largest consumers of electricity, primarily due to air conditioning and lighting requirements. Although Building Management Systems (BMS) were originally implemented to allow centralised building monitoring and control, these systems have become increasingly used to assist in reducing energy consumption. This is primarily due to the interconnectivity and large number of sensing inputs implemented by such systems. More sophisticated systems are referred to as Energy Management Systems (EMS), and can implement advanced energy-saving techniques like demand-modelling.
Demand-side management is another technique used to assist in energy saving by allowing utility companies to selectively control demand by disconnecting selected electrical appliances, such as electric hot water geysers, within households during peak periods. This requires an additional communication link between households and the power utility, but is proving to be a viable means of controlling energy consumption.
Household lighting is also a field in which many energy-saving technologies exist (see also the section on lighting). High-efficiency lighting, using compact fluorescent or LED technologies, are gaining popularity and provide simple means of lowering electricity bills. Lighting control systems are also becoming popular, especially in the form of movement-sensitive lighting and intelligent day/night lighting products.
Smart metering technologies, both in a residential and commercial setting, are also classified as energy-saving technologies as they increase the efficiency and accuracy with which electricity usage is measured. These systems can also supply additional energy utilisation information, such as energy usage profiling, peak demand monitoring and supply instability or interruption detection. The development of electronic vehicles and plug-in hybrids also considered to be an energy-saving technology.
Millbug has the capacity to manufacture and design energy-saving technologies in South Africa. Much of the development and interest has been driven by strong international demand for renewable and energy efficient sources and locally by the recent energy shortfalls experienced over the past five years. Future demand may also be stimulated by regulatory changes, commitments (e.g. energy efficiency audits of public buildings and refitting) and certification (as through the South African Green Building Council) and the development of dedicated funds to support energy efficiency and renewable energy (e.g. the joint effort between explored by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French Development Agency, together with KfW, Germany’s development finance institution, and the IDC).
Millbug has both the expertise and facilities to develop and manufacture smart-grid technologies in South Africa. There exists ample manufacturing capacity and technological support for such industries.