A new regulation in the energy sector has created a massive gap in the energy services industry. Vash Singh, Managing Director of Alliance Energy, shares her journey to becoming an energy entrepreneur and encourages other women to follow suit.
In December last year, a new regulation was gazetted which will see buildings in South Africa having to undergo an energy audit to receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It will be mandatory for this certificate to be displayed at a building’s entrance.
However, only the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited Inspection Bodies (IBs) can issue this certificate – and there are not many such companies in existence (yet)! This has created a massive opportunity for people looking to get into the energy efficiency sector.
Vash Singh, MD of Alliance Energy, has proven to be ahead of the pack. She applied for accreditation from SANAS almost as soon as the regulations were gazetted. Having received their accreditation earlier this year, Alliance Energy is now one of just two such accredited IBs.
“I watched the development of these regulations closely, aware of the business opportunities which lie ahead. There will be high demand for companies like mine, and I hope to see other women entering the industry now that this great prospect is within reach,” says Vash Singh. She hopes to offer mentorship to women energy entrepreneurs to extend much needed capability. Achieving and maintaining SANAS accreditation can be challenging but it is key for the accurate and consistent verification of energy usage data, using quality instrumentation and methodologies in line with international standards.
According to the ‘Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings’, buildings in South Africa need to have their energy performance assessed by an accredited party, who will then issue an EPC which rates the building from A – G for energy efficiency. The new regulations apply to non-residential buildings with a net floor area of at least 2000 m2 in the private sector (schools, malls, theatres), and 1000 m2 for government buildings. Their EPC must be displayed at the building entrance, with at least a D-rating.
Property owners and government buildings have until 8 December 2022 to ensure that they are compliant. “This means that there are thousands of property owners who will be in need of accredited IBs to undertake their energy verification audit and issue the certificate. Here lies a wealth of opportunity for people wishing to get into the energy sector,” says Singh.
Navigating a tough business landscape
Singh adds that being a start-up in South Africa is not easy. “We don’t have many support mechanisms for new businesses in our country. It’s a tough landscape. I am fortunate to have gained significant experience across various industries in both corporate and business environments to draw on for the establishment and growth of Alliance Energy.” She is a chemical engineering graduate with a Masters in Engineering Business Management. Now, she would like to help others too.
“I believe it is important for those of us who are established in the industry to empower and encourage emerging enterprises, especially the youth- and woman-owned entities. We are likely to face a shortage of skilled individuals during the rise of the EPC process, so we must welcome and encourage people into the energy sector,” says Singh.
She says that not everyone entering the sector needs to have a background in engineering. There are many support roles available, and opportunities for data scientists, architects, quantity surveyors and others to become involved. While SANAS does require an accredited body to have core technical positions with certain qualifications, the wider value chain offers many job prospects.
“Fostering new talent in the energy sector is sure to assist South Africa in reaching climate change mitigation ambitions. Facilitating the improved energy performance of our buildings is a worthy career with ample business opportunity – our young people need to embrace this reality and take advantage of the EPC regulations,” concludes Singh.
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