Improving energy utilisation efficiency in the Uganda manufacturing SMEs: A case of the Foundry Subsector.
Nalweyiso, Angela Semakula
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In the current liberalized Ugandan economy, energy intensive SMEs are under unprecedented pressure to improve their competitiveness for their survival and growth. Energy cost is noted as one of the largest costs that SMEs can control. Implementation of energy conservation in SMEs has been at a far slower rate than expected despite substantive efforts in the past years. Inadequate information about energy efficiency among small and medium enterprises still persists, preventing increased adoption of efficient technology. Foundry is one of the most Energy intensive metallurgical industries. Energy also contributes to the major cost input to the production of castings. Therefore it becomes inevitable to explore the various means by which energy consumption in melting units can be minimized considerably. The main objective of the study was therefore to establish the energy utilisation efficiency of the manufacturing SMEs in Uganda with a view to devising ways in which it can be improved. The foundry subsector was used as a case study. The energy consumption of small and medium scale foundries was reviewed, their energy efficiency and hence the energy conservation potential was estimated and then the ways to improve their energy utilisation were devised. To achieve the objectives, both secondary and primary data were used. For gathering primary data, an interview guide along with an observation list was employed. Seven small and medium scale foundry shops were visited and the data gathered was analyzed to draw conclusions. The major energy sources used in these foundries include used oil at a consumption rate of 67.8%, biomass at 16.4%, diesel at 14.9%, and electricity at 0.9%. The specific energy consumptions (SEC) of the firms studied range from 22.9MJ/kg to 32.7 MJ/kg which is on the higher side. The melting process consumes the biggest part of the energy at 69% of the total energy consumed in the foundries. The crucible furnaces commonly employed for the metal melting process are less energy efficient as compared to other melting methods. This necessitates the employment of more energy efficient melting technologies. Implementation of energy management programs in order to reduce energy requirements per unit of output is thus recommended. Different energy saving measures that can be employed in these firms were identified. Some of these can be implemented by adopting simple courses of action while others require high capital investment. It is thus recommended that these firms start by implementing the low cost solutions and progress with time to the capital intensive solutions.