Interview: Akli Brihi
What are the challenges to improving energy efficiency in emerging markets?
AKLI BRIHI: First of all, it is important to emphasise that developing countries are seeing their energy demand rise rapidly under the pressure of three trends. The first comes from urbanisation, given that we will build as many cities in the next 40 years as we have since the beginning of humanity. The second trend is digitisation in light of the fact that we are living in the second age of the internet. The central concept is about connecting people to devices, people to machines and devices to devices to such an extent that over the next five years that we will connect to the web 20 times more devices than new users. As a consequence, there will be a lot more traffic, data, storage and energy consumption. The final trend is industrialisation. Industry is going to increase significantly, and this will raise demand for energy. It is obvious that the hike in energy consumption needs to be counterbalanced by significant energy efficiency programmes. If not, the energy bill is going to be particularly high for countries which are heavily subsidising electricity. Those countries should think about progressively raising electricity tariffs and/ or giving consumers some incentives to save energy.
Which investments should Algeria prioritise to improve energy efficiency over the next five years?
BRIHI: Energy efficiency saves megawatts, carbon emissions and money – with a quick payback – across all industries and installations, through solutions that are available today and easy to implement. Algeria should introduce regulations with tax incentives to foster energy savings, especially in high-energy consumption sectors such as construction, industry and transportation. For instance, the public sector – which is quite dominant in Algeria’s economy – should be leading when building housing and transportation infrastructure. Also, in the power sector, putting a smart grid across the network would bring additional energy savings by efficiently linking demand and supply. Companies that specialise in energy efficiency can provide technologies and solutions to help households lower their annual bill – something that is particularly important for Algerian consumers right now.
Where do you see the greatest potential for rebalancing Algeria’s energy mix?
BRIHI: I think the potential clearly lies in renewable energies. Algeria has announced an ambitious programme which aims to produce 22 GW of electricity stemming from renewable energies by 2030-40. This is an immense challenge, but it remains achievable. Algeria must offer a secure, stable and favourable legal and tax framework to allow foreign investment in renewable energies. This is critical in order to meet the ambitious target set by Algeria.
What can be done to enable companies to reduce consumption without impacting their bottom line?
BRIHI: The key is regulation that allows companies to be eligible for rebates from utility and government programmes. Tax incentives can also be envisaged to foster the adaptation and implementation of effective energy management programmes. This could help companies realise the benefits of energy efficiency while taking on minimal risk and with a large potential payback. A proven process, combined with a holistic view of facilities and ongoing proactive measures, gives companies the ability to invest in energy efficiency with a predictable rate of return. A comprehensive energy management programme addresses all energy consumption in a facility: from the building envelope to the internal controls and systems including lighting, heating, air conditioning, electricity and water. A measurable, verifiable energy management programme allows executives to make comfortable, informed decisions about their facilities and energy use. The result converts typical sunk energy costs into highly agile assets.
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