Category | Steel

Efficiency Project Saves Saldanha Works R90 million in one year

Saldanha Works – the single largest electricity consumer in the Western Cape – participated in an Industrial Energy

Efficiency Improvement Project that has resulted in an astounding R90 million energy bill savings in one year.

The project was the product of an energy management strategy that was launched in 2010. Initially, potential savings were identified through an energy audit and an examination of its existing project list. The plant then initiated an ISO 50001-compliant energy management system that cut its energy use by 6.6 percent in a year.

Energy management strategy

In 2010, Saldanha Works launched a focused energy management strategy to save energy, water and waste at the plant. Dhesan Moodley, Generalanager, Saldanha Works, says; “Resources were allocated both in terms of people and capital expenditure. Initially the potential was determined through an existing project list and doing an energy audit on the plant to determine further possible savings. ISO 50001 was implemented and energy management is now part of our daily routines. The energy saved in terms of baseline value of 160 MW was 10.6MW or 6.6% and the LPG savings added equivalent of R90 million in 2012.”

Various variable speed drive (VSD) projects were implemented which eventually delivered greater savings than expected. Dhesan says: “This has proved to be sound technology given the correct application. We are also very proud of our waste heat project at the Roller Hearth Furnace where waste heat was used to replace a diesel heater at the Air Separation plant. We have also done some optimisation projects at the water plant on pump systems that required no capital expenditure.”

Introducing savings easy

According to Dhesan, introducing energy savings is relatively easy. He explains the main lessons the steel plant learnt: “You need to assign resources if you are really serious about energy savings. You need to train people – a good technical person still needs to be trained in energy savings and the NCPC/ UNIDO program (supported by the DTI and DOE) is really an affordable way to train your staff to think and implement energy savings initiatives. Introducing savings is relatively easy. Sustaining these savings can be quite difficult especially if it is achieved by changing human behaviour. You need to incorporate it in your management infrastructure and implement a system such as ISO 50001 to entrench and sustain such savings.”

Increased energy tariffs

Large Power Users are under increasing pressure with rising energy tariffs and the impending implementation of a carbon tax. According to, Dhesan the increased energy tariff and carbon tax is a significant risk for Saldanha Works. He expands: “We are focused on the export market, specifically in Africa and we are competing against China and India. These countries do not experience any of the cost increases mentioned. The viability of export facilities is at risk with these increases. This obviously has significant potential impact on the economy, not just local, but also on the fiscal balance.”

A number of delegates at the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town on 14 and15 May will visit the Saldanha Works. This event will give a unique insight into the challenges of large power users. Dhesan says their main message to fellow power professionals at the event will be that “once you start focusing on energy savings there are numerous opportunities to achieve savings.”

The site visit will include the following aspects of the plant:

  • RHF Flue gas capture to heat Diesel at the Air Separation Unit: This is a waste heat project which eliminates the requirement for diesel heating by using waste heat from another process to achieve the same results.
  • Optimisation of Compressed Air at ASU: Eliminating waste from the compressed air system. The monitory value of mismanaged and misused compressed air is often underestimated.
  • Water treatment plant System 1 and 14: There are often low hanging fruit to achieve savings such as just switching off equipment and ensuring that a system is running at its optimum with as little waste as possible. These are two examples of this principle. Solid theoretical analysis, practical measurements and detail risk analysis and action plan to address risks are essential before any changes can be made.