With our overburdened electricity grid and an energy crisis looming, a promising solution has been launched to the South African business and domestic market. Proudly South African company, carbonTRACK, offers a new intelligent energy management system that is enabling companies and households to adjust and regulate energy use on various appliances, improving efficiency, and reducing costs and carbon footprints.
Irvan Damon, MD of carbonTRACK, says energy consumption represents a large proportion of our carbon footprint, while also continually increasing costs with ongoing price hikes. “carbonTRACK offsets this with a system that includes an energy monitoring, control and savings device which is installed in a consumer’s home or business and connected to the distribution board. It monitors and controls heavy energy loads such as pool pumps, hot water geysers or air conditioning, or the entire incoming load of the house, all from the convenience of your phone, tablet or laptop. – .”
He adds that invariably consumers pay for energy use when they shouldn’t be. “Most energy is used for heating and cooling and to heat water. carbonTRACK monitors and controls energy use, enabling a saving of up to 30%. For instance, electricity intense hot water geysers are generally only required for a few hours in the morning, and almost never during the night, yet they continually reheat water that isn’t needed. By ensuring water is at temperature during times of use only, carbonTRACK can reduce electricity consumption substantially. The web user-interface allows you to set geyser temperatures and timer settings. Added to this, switching hot water geysers off during peak load events would have a marked effect on grid consumption, possibly limiting or even preventing load shedding blackouts.”
As of this year July, the City of Johannesburg will introduce residential time-of-use tariffs. Stand-by loads like modems, set-top boxes, washing machines and microwaves contribute up to 6% of our national grid-usage. “With carbonTRACK® you will conveniently be able to set your energy loads to draw power during off-peak times, from 10:00 to 18:00. With the launch of carbonTRACK®’s ZigBee wireless plug, stand-by devices can now be switched off at the appliance level via your phone, further reducing your energy spend. In addition, by switching off your appliances at the plug power level, you can avoid the damages appliances experience when connected back to the grid due to load-shedding and voltage spikes. Using your phone to interface with your ZigBee is a first for South Africa,” says Damon.
carbonTRACK technology can ‘see’ electricity use in a home or business, and uses clever hardware and software algorithms to switch devices as required to minimise their electricity consumption. A proprietary communications stack allows remote switching of devices in under three seconds, using robust telecommunications networks at an extremely small cost. The results are residential electricity savings of up to 30% or more; the ability for third parties – such as Eskom – to switch major loads during peak load events; and a total installed cost of around R4 900 per building.
carbonTRACK can also offer improved efficiency solutions for solar power usage and carbonTRACK can work with householders to help them get the most out of alternative power generation such as solar geysers and photovoltaic solar.
“Solar is a great start to electricity independence, but it is just the start,” explains Damon. “There is so much more that households and businesses can get out of their solar power if they use it well. carbonTRACK is designed to make standard solar smart. carbonTRACK users can see and understand when they are generating the most solar power and how to reduce the grid power they use. Ultimately, carbonTRACK provides the ability to make smarter, informed decisions on how to manage energy needs to reduce electricity bills and dependence on Eskom.”
He adds that carbonTRACK can show how much energy an alternative power source produces, uses and stores, and if the system’s performance drops, carbonTRACK will send an alert. carbonTRACK also optimises the operation of up to two geysers by constantly recalculating and measuring the solar thermal conversion, maximising geyser efficiency and ensuring that water is heated with the least amount of energy. carbonTRACK’s leak detection capabilities detect and control a leak when it occurs, reducing resultant damage from faulty or leaky geysers.
The carbonTRACK device and its management software were co-developed by the company’s Australian partner, which has more than 12 years’ experience in telemetry and software engineering, but manufacturing is 100% South African. carbonTRACK is a Proudly South African company, creating local jobs and economic empowerment for South Africans.
Says Proudly South African’s CEO, Adv. Leslie Sedibe, “carbonTRACK, a registered Proudly South African member company, provides a significant and necessary product to consumers during a time when electricity supply is closely monitored and consumers are urged to cut down on their usage. We are proud to have carbonTRACK on board with a product that empowers South Africans to easily monitor and manage their power usage during challenging times. This innovative solution can also be used to monitor solar generation and ultimately gives consumers the power to save money. This comes at a time when our government is urging all South Africans to work together to save electricity and help get the country out of its energy shortage challenge. President Jacob Zuma recently reiterated that while government will play its part, every single consumer can also contribute towards energy saving.”
The carbonTRACK products are now more accessible to consumers than ever before, thanks to the conclusion of an exclusive agreement with Builders for the distribution of carbonTRACK systems through its network of outlets. The launch is pegged for the first half of this year.
In a recent development, the Kutana Group has joined carbonTRACK as their black empowerment investors, and according to Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe, shareholder and CEO of Kutana Group, “Kutana is proud to partner with carbonTRACK, a cutting edge technology company focused on energy management. carbonTRACK has made a significant investment in South Africa, contributing to local manufacturing, creating local jobs and supporting local communities.
“Kutana Investments is geared towards delivering significant shareholder value through sound strategic investments, while contributing to and empowering the local economy. Our investment in carbonTRACK extends our portfolio to innovative energy management solutions which are not only locally manufactured and Proudly South African, but which will respond to South Africa's urgent need to conserve energy,” says Mokgosi-Mwantembe.
Last year, carbonTRACK’s device won the prestigious GAP ICT 2014 Innovation Hub Award for its remarkable potential for households and the greater electricity grid, to improve their energy efficiency, according to Lufuno Ramabulana, a specialist at the Innovation Hub’s Innovation Strategy Projects and manager of GAP ICT.
For further information on carbonTRACK go to www.carbonTRACK.co.za or follow on @carbontracksa.