Load shedding is not unique to South Africa, as many of us believe. A growing number of first world nations are also adopting measures to conserve energy. The German city of Hamburg has warned that it could be forced to ration hot water as the Russian energy crisis deepens. In the UK, Brits could be asked to turn down their thermostats and avoid the use of appliances like stoves and washing machines between the peak times of 6pm and 8pm in order to avoid blackouts this winter. The government of Japan urged citizens to turn off unnecessary lights and to limit the use of air conditioning as the country struggles with growing power shortages. Australia has called on residents not to use electricity from 6pm to 8pm.
Why is it important?
Power cuts are essential to alleviate the growing problem of energy shortages, with gas supplies tight and prices high. Cutbacks also reduce a country’s reliance on nations dominating the gas and oil sectors, such as Russia, which has been limiting supplies of natural gas to European nations supporting Ukraine. The environment also benefits when the use of fossil fuels is reduced and the transition to clean energy is speeded up. The challenge however is that this comes at a time when extreme heat is plaguing many parts of the world and air conditioners are increasingly being relied upon. Simply put, due to climate change, the world is getting hotter.
What can businesses do about it?
Businesses that are impacted by these measures need to make provisions for power interruptions which could worsen over time. Transitioning to clean energy should be a priority for businesses. They should also consider retrofitting their office buildings to make use of other cooling solutions rather than air conditioning which requires a substantial amount of energy to run and is harmful to the environment. In 2018, the use of air conditioners and electric fans made up 10% of global electricity consumption, according to the International Energy Agency.There are many innovative green solutions that are being trialled. Passive cooling can be integrated into a building’s design, whereby renewable sources of energy such as the sun and wind are used to provide cooling, ventilation and lighting. One such example are wind catchers which have been staving off heat for centuries in North Africa and the Middle East.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Cherry Laithang