Cool surfaces offer immediate economic benefits

by Ofentse Sefolo
Cool surfaces offer immediate economic benefits

In a time where the South African national energy supply is under strain, compounded by a fragile grid, cool surfaces technology offers an immediate, direct and inexpensive solution to the country’s strides towards an economy built on clean energy.

However, it’s not only the grid that is under constant threat – the Covid-19 pandemic has created a global economic crisis and untenable rising energy costs are reducing citizens’ already-constrained monthly cash flow. Energy efficiency should now, more than ever, be at the forefront of any energy strategy.

“Through cool surfaces technology, the environment benefits from a passive-energy cooling solution that includes cool roofs, cool walls and cool roads. This simply involves the coating of surfaces with a durable, reflective membrane, which reflects the heat of the sun. Indeed, cool surfaces offer a smart passive-energy cooling solution,” notes Denise Lundall, project officer for energy-efficiency cool surfaces at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).

Tangible benefits

As we enter the country’s warmer months, cooling our living and working spaces should go beyond comfort. Unfortunately, many households and businesses continue to use energy-intensive heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, which increase energy demand and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Lundall adds: “Non-air-conditioned buildings and cities are increasingly becoming too hot for acceptable habitation, with air-conditioning consumption reaching 12,7% of the projected global electricity demand. According to the International Energy Agency, electricity-to-power cooling in buildings is the fastest growing end-use sector at almost 3,5% annual growth globally.

“Cool surfaces alleviate the need for systems that place so much pressure on the grid, as load shedding and rising costs are gravely perpetuating the country’s economic state.

“We are therefore encouraging South Africans to manufacture cool coatings for roofs, walls and roads, establishing new industries and job opportunities. A national rollout of cool surfaces will greatly aid the government in not only alleviating pressure on the grid – as a passive energy solution – but also creating much-needed local economic development, manufacturing and employment opportunities.”

Supports the government’s mandates

Cool roads, for example, can assist the Department of Transport (DoT) to reduce the need for road maintenance and tyre damage, as it significantly reduces the surface and ambient temperature (of roads), effectively extending its lifespan.

Moreover, cool surfaces technology can assist the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in the revival of the economy, which includes a product lifecycle from manufacturing, testing to distribution and application.

The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (DHS) can also benefit from an affordable intervention that increases the standard of low-cost living, reduces energy costs and limits subsequent maintenance.

Urban benefits

In urban areas, cool surfaces projects provide coating application training to local communities and partner departments, particularly those suffering from high unemployment. Successful graduates are offered paid jobs as supervised interns during project deployment and bring back invaluable experience to their own communities.

The deployment of cool surfaces technology also greatly improves urban air quality, reducing energy and health costs. It reduces the urban heat island (UHI) effect as it cools the ambient temperature over cities, providing resilience to heat events and climate change.

On an individual building scale, cool surfaces improve the thermal comfort of occupants in buildings without mechanical air-conditioning, like some schools, warehouses, homes and factories. Also, it substantially reduces the cost of building maintenance as it is waterproof, fire retardant, inexpensive, low-tech and quick and easy to deploy.

Ultimately, cool surfaces technology offers a myriad of tangible benefits and a very real solution in the time of economic crisis.

South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI)
Tel: (011) 038 4302
Email: barryb@sanedi.org.za
Website: www.sanedi.org.za

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