Monthly Archives

April 2017

Own an SME? Tax perks of going solar

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In South Africa, we realise the importance of nurturing SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises): They play a vital role in developing our growing economy, creating much-needed jobs and driving innovation. At the same time, as the proverbial small fish in the big pond, they face many challenges such as securing the funding they need, complying with all of the country’s legislative requirements and keeping head above water in competitive industries. It’s clear that SMEs need all the help they can get, especially when it comes to relieving some of the financial strains and stresses of running a business.

Indeed, many SME owners toss and turn over money matters at night. Especially tax is a pebble in the shoe for many businesses, big and small. Not only is it tricky to navigate the world of tax (especially if you’re new to business), but it’s never easy to part with one’s hard-earned money.


Tax incentive for installing solar PV


That’s why it’s great news for SMEs that SARS offers business owners certain tax concessions for utilising renewable energy – specifically a special tax incentive for installing solar PV (photovoltaic) energy solutions.

Cala van der Westhuizen from Energy Partners, a renewable energy solutions supplier, explains that solar energy systems such as theirs hold tax perks for businesses from the get-go. “Financially it makes good sense for businesses to install a solar PV system as they can deduct the VAT portion which is already 14% of the total cost if they are VAT-registered,” he says.


Deduct cost of installation


The second big tax advantage, is that business owners can deduct the full cost of the installation of a solar energy solution from their business income tax in the first year, according to the terms of Section 12B of the Income Tax Act. This 100% accelerated capital allowance applies to business solar PV solutions that produce less than 1 megawatt of power.


Pay less carbon tax


Government’s purpose with this allowance is to encourage the use of renewable energy in the business sector by for instance supporting smaller solar PV energy projects that have a low environmental impact and use little water. Which brings us to another tax benefit of installing solar PV: This year, government is introducing a carbon tax for businesses that emit excessive amounts of greenhouse gasses through especially transportation vehicles and electricity generation. As a low-carbon source of energy, solar power can help businesses to become greener and therefore avoid carbon tax.


Savings on electricity bill


The financial benefits of installing an efficient business solar solution go beyond tax concessions. With a state-of-the-art, efficient system from Energy Partners, SMEs can significantly cut their monthly electricity bills. An Energy Partners SME solar solution can pay for itself with what the business saves on electricity. “The repayment term of a solar PV system for a commercial installation is close to around 4 years, depending on certain factors like self-consumption and the tariff structure. With solar panels that have a 25-year production warranty, it’s very much like buying 25 years’ prepaid electricity at 5 years’ cost,” Van der Westhuizen says.

He adds: “Energy Partners Home Solutions also offer various financing options for SMEs that don’t have the capex available to purchase the system outright. As a registered financial services provider, many of our clients purchase a system that is financed by us and which they can easily pay off out of the operational budgets of their businesses. In certain cases, we can even offer a Performance Lease Agreement, which allows for the installation of the system at a fraction of the cost.”

It’s clear that, if you’re an SME owner, you can’t afford not to consider a renewable energy solution that looks after the environment and your all-important cash flow. If you’re interested in putting the financial benefits of a solar PV solution to work in your business, contact Energy Partners for a free, no-obligation energy assessment. 


Read more about this in the press:

Five fantastic earth-saving innovations

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Every year on 22 April, we join more than 192 countries in celebrating Earth Day. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on how we can look after the health of our planet, protect it for the future and reverse some of the damage that’s already been done. Here are five fantastic earth-saving innovations to inspire you:





Elijah Djan invented Nubrix when he was just 11 years old.
Image: The Observers

Only about 5% of South African households recycle their waste paper, meaning the other 95% are sending theirs to the already overflowing landfills.

When Elijah Djan saw his lecturer dad burning a pile of old textbooks, he knew he had to come up with a better way of dealing with waste paper. He was only 11 at the time, but he was also fully aware of South Africa’s housing crisis, and so the idea for Nubrix was born: A brick made from waste paper.

Today, Elijah is a third-year industrial engineering student at the University of Pretoria and he’s turning Nubrix into a business. While more durability tests need to be done, he has subjected his waste-paper bricks to rain and compression tests, and built a Nubrix wall that’s still standing a year later. The hope is that in the near future there will be a very real drive towards sustainable innovation from government and the building sector. This will hopefully peak their interest in products such as Nubrix, and help patch our social fabric and the planet brick by brick.

Read more here.


The Ocean Cleanup



The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to free our oceans from plastic waste.

From one boy inventor to the next. The Ocean Cleanup Array, a system that could potentially relieve the ocean of 7 250 000 tons of plastic waste, is the brainchild of a Dutch teen, Boyan Slat. It comprises solar-powered spinning booms that act as a floating barrier and uses the ocean’s currents to catch and concentrate debris. The first prototype was launched for a year-long study in June 2016 in the Netherlands’ Northern Sea.

Considering we’re dumping over 8 million tons of plastic waste into the ocean every year, we’re holding thumbs that the Ocean Cleanup brings salvation to our precious marine ecosystems.

Read more here.


The WAIR “smart scarf”



WAIR is a chic new take on pollution masks.
Image: WAIR

It’s estimated that air pollution leads to the deaths of over 5.5 million people around the world every year. In South Africa, government is aiming to introduce a carbon tax for businesses that produce excessive amounts of CO2. But a French startup has a more fashion-forward take on the issue. They’re making pollution masks look chic through WAIR – a scarf that doubles up as an accessory and an air-filtration mask.

Wearers simply cover their mouths and noses with WAIR while a hidden, lightweight battery-operated air filtration box purifies the air they breathe. The scarf can filter out 99% of air pollutants and even bacteria, and the wearer uses WAIR’s app to keep track of the air quality in the area.

Read more here.





GlasPro UV glass makes man-made structures safer for birds. Left: what humans see. Right: what birds see.

About two-thirds of South Africa is urbanised, which means that, more than ever before, we’re encroaching on our wildlife’s homes.

A wide variety of bird species, for example, are attempting to survive in these unnatural and dangerous new habits. Reflective, transparent materials such as windows cause hazardous collisions that kill millions of birds every year. GlasPro has come up with a simple, yet effective innovation to keep our feathered fellow citizens safe: Bird-friendly glass coated with UV liquid that makes it visible to birds. Human eyes can’t detect the UV liquid, so from our perspective, it doesn’t change the appearance of the glass.

Read more here.


Tenkiv Nexus solar water purifier



The Tenkiv Nexus uses solar power to purify water.

It’s estimated that 1 in 8 people worldwide doesn’t have access to clean water and now, during the current dry spell here in the Western Cape, we’re once again reminded of the importance of this vital resource. Local government is realising the need to find alternative sources of water, instead of just relying on rainwater, while there’s a global drive to keep our dams and rivers pollution-free.

A project called Tenkiv Nexus could solve some of the world’s water woes. It uses solar energy to purify over 1 800 litres of water at a time. The team behind the project says that Nexus works at one-thirteenth of the cost of traditional solar and is 20% cheaper than traditional fossil-fuel-powered water purifiers.

Read more here.

Whether you think big like the Ocean Cleanup or small and simple like WAIR, doing your bit for the planet starts with you, at home. Look at ways you can save water and use electricity wisely every day. So take that first step for our planet: contact Energy Partners Home Solutions for ideas on how you can make your home greener and more energy-efficient. 

Energize eMagazine feature Gauteng opening

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Energize eMagazine has featured the opening of the Gauteng regional office. Energize is the independent power and energy journal of Southern Africa. Read the article below.

Energy Partners Home Solutions recently introduced its newly established Gauteng Division at the 2017 Homemakers Expo in Johannesburg. The company was launched in Cape Town last year and has a proven record of reducing electricity costs for homeowners.

It has fast become one of the leading residential and small commercial energy solutions companies in the greater Western Cape, and has already started installation at a few houses in the Gauteng area. The company provides a full range of solar and energy saving solutions for the consumer market, including the Energy Partners Home Solutions ICON system, which incorporates energy efficiency, renewable generation and backup solutions to reduce a home’s reliance on the grid by more than 50% and often up to 90%.

South Africa is one of the countries with the highest potential for solar energy generation in the world, with approximately 2500 hours of sunshine per year. Yet there is still a relatively small percentage of the country’s residents who are actually taking advantage of this low-cost alternative. In addition to their range of products and solutions, the company also offers various funding options for homeowners looking to reduce their energy spend.

Find the original article here.

Zuma commits SA to renewable energy

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President Jacob Zuma committed to South Africa’s continued investment in renewable energy as part of its overall energy mix.

Eskom has for months refused to issue final budget quotes to preferred bidders in Round 4 and the Round 4 extension of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

It has caused widespread concern in the renewable energy sector, which had praised South Africa for years.

There are 26 preferred bidders across a range of technologies, none of which has reached financial close due to Eskom’s refusal to sign further power purchase agreements, South African Renewable Energy Council (Sarec) chairperson Brenda Martin explained.

“These projects represent a combined value of R50bn in investment into the country that has been put on hold, which is ludicrous when considering our current economic climate,” she said.

However, Zuma said planned investments in renewable energy will go ahead.

“Work is continuing to ensure energy security. Renewable energy forms an important part of our energy mix, which also includes electricity generation from gas, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro and coal,” he said.

“Government is committed to the overall Independent Power Producers Programme and we are expanding the programme to other sources of energy including coal and gas, in addition to renewable energy.

“Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds.”

Zuma’s utterance comes as the SA Renewable Energy Technology Centre at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology warned this week that the country’s fledgling wind turbine service technician training programme will be “skilling its graduates for unemployment” if construction on the next round of state-commissioned wind farms doesn’t begin within the forthcoming year.

Acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko told Fin24 this year that renewable energy should be developed at a scale and pace the utility and country can afford – a line first used by Zuma in 2016 to explain the planned nuclear new build plan.


Sarec praises Zuma

Martin said on Thursday evening that Sarec is “very pleased to note the presidency’s clear support for the country’s Renewable Energy Procurement Programme (REI4P)”.

“This globally recognised programme was the initiative of government, and it is fitting that the policy-maker’s vision can continue to be realised.

“Industry appreciates the expressed support that key ministers have lent to the REI4P during the year-long impasse with Eskom.

“Some of the serious economic effects of the recent pause in South Africa’s renewable power procurement programme such as factory closures and job losses have caused serious hardship for this fledgling industry. We trust that there will now be rapid movement to resolve the impasse in line with the President’s directive,” said Martin.

“This president’s leadership can ensure that now much-needed direct and indirect investment and job creation is unlocked. More than R57bn investment will flow in the short-term and jobs will be created once outstanding power purchase agreements are signed.

“By 2014, investment into renewables in South Africa accounted for 84% of all foreign direct investment; a total sum of just under R200bn.

“Since 2016, while approximately R57bn worth of further renewable power investment had been secured under the programme in 2015, this sum has not entered the economy. In addition, up to 15 000 jobs associated with the power procured in 2015, are currently not being realised.

She said that through 6 bid windows the REI4P secured the following successes:

  • 102 projects have been procured; investments of R 194.1bn (of which R53.4bn from foreign investors)
  • 64 projects have signed contracts representing 4 006 MW capacity of which 3051 MW was online (including early operation) as at 17 January 2017
  • Substantial jobs for South African citizens have been created (of which more than 47% are for youth)
  • Socio-economic development initiatives have been initiated in local communities
  • A green-industry has started to develop to the point that some manufacturers have become exporters of renewable energy plant components
  • Technicians are being trained at global standard ensuring that young graduates can service both the domestic and international market.

Read the original article on Fin24 by clicking here.

Tshwane announce Embedded Power Generation policy

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The City of Tshwane announced its flagship policy on Embedded Power Generation (EPG), which is aimed to promote small-scale solar power generation by residents.

Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, executive mayor Solly Msimanga said this is an opportunity for residents to sell their excess power to the city.

EPG is essentially allowing small power generation by residents or small businesses for their own use.

“Residents can generate solar power from a roof-top panel during the day, and sell their excess to the city. At night, when the resident cannot generate solar power, they can purchase from the city,” said Msimanga.

“This is a major step in the renewable power policy and our first step in a real green power development.”

Echoing the mayor’s sentiments, member of the mayoral committee for infrastructure Darryn Moss said the spare electricity generated can be used to make up during instances where the city has a shortfall.

“This innovation mitigates both the economic impact and inconvenience of load-shedding and saves on the cost of buying electricity at peak rates,” Moss said.

Globally, feed-in tariffs have had the biggest impact on the boom in renewable energy.

“Figures provided by the trustworthy Power Quality and Renewable Services indicate that over the course of 2016, it is estimated that 120Mw of actual module sales took place.

“Roughly 118Mw of the total installed capacity has been audited and, due to the volume of data, is assumed to be representative of the growth of PV installations in South Africa over a period of time.

“Strategic decisions have been taken to enhance demand side management through energy-efficiency initiatives, improved metering of electricity and reduced losses from the transmission and distribution of electricity and fuels,” Msimanga said.

The mayor said the production of solar energy within the city is “up there with the best in the country”.

He concluded by saying, together with the EPG, they will ensure the city leads by example by producing energy efficiency plans for households, official buildings and public spaces.

Click here to read the original article from The Citizen.

Eskom can hike prices by 2.2% in 2017 – Nersa

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Pretoria – South Africa’s energy regulator says Eskom can implement a 2.2% tariff increase for the 2017/18 period as part of a previous multi-year increase determination agreement.

Eskom is currently in the last year of what Nersa calls the ‘Third Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD3)’ which has provided for R205bn allowable revenue for the state-owned power provider in the 2017/18 period.

This revenue is expected to cover all of Eskom’s allowed costs including a return of R33bn. The allowable revenue also includes an amount of R23bn for Independent Power Producer purchases.

Subsequently, Eskom is able to increase tariffs by 2.2% owing to adjustments made in 2015/16 of 12.7% and 9.4% for 2016/17 in line with the power utility’s Regulatory Clearing Account (RCA).

“It’s important to indicate that Nersa did not make any new decisions for Eskom for the 2017/18 period,” said Nersa chair Jacob Modise.

“Nersa did not make any new decisions. This decision was made in February 2013,” said Modise.

However, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) said it is “opening the door” for Eskom to make a new application for a price increase.

Eskom currently cannot apply for a new RCA owing to recent decision by the North Gauteng High Court. The court previously set aside the regulator’s decision to grant Eskom a tariff increase.

But Nersa said that Eskom can still make an application for a price hike if there are any possible cash flow risks for the company.

This application, though, will have to go through a full public participation process.

“To the extent that we have not been able to process new RCA applications.. it is possible that Eskom may be suffering some financial harm,” said Modise.

“We are opening the door to Eskom to make an application,” he said.

Read the original article from Fin24.

China builds world’s biggest solar farm

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High on the Tibetan plateau, a giant poster of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, guards the entrance to one of the greatest monuments to Beijing’s quest to become a clean energy colossus. To Xi’s right, on the road leading to what is reputedly the biggest solar farm on earth, a billboard greets visitors with the slogan: “Promote green development! Develop clean energy!”

Behind him, a sea of nearly 4m deep blue panels flows towards a spectacular horizon of snow-capped mountains – mile after mile of silicon cells tilting skywards from what was once a barren, wind-swept cattle ranch.

“It’s big! Yeah! Big!” Gu Bin, one of the engineers responsible for building the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in the western province of Qinghai, enthused with a heavy dose of understatement during a rare tour of the mega-project.

The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower.

Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter.

“The development of clean energy is very important if we are to keep the promises made in the Paris agreement,” Xie Xiaoping, the chairman of Huanghe Hydropower Development, the state-run company behind the park, said during an interview at its headquarters in Xining, the provincial capital.

Click here to read the full article from The Gardian.

Smart Energy For Your Home

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Pioneering EPHS work published in Simply Green

Simply Green digimag recently published an article in their digital magazine about Energy Partners Home Solutions. The article provides a comprehensive and fully transparent overview of EPHS’s purpose and benefits – especially with the eye on long-term effectiveness and sustainability.

One of the fundamental benefits central to EPHS’s value offering is the level of scalability and customisation that is available to customers. This point is conveyed in the article, particularised by supporting detail to elucidate its relevance:

“Their systems are fully modular so you can start small and build up to complete independence over time.”

Our thinking, values and philosophy is pushing EPHS to fast becoming one of the leading residential and small commercial energy solutions companies in the greater Western Cape, with recent installations now stretching all the way to Gauteng. And as far as we’re concerned, this is just the start. While we’re working to make the future part of today every day, we continue to remain excited about what the future will bring for South Africa – and beyond.

In the United States, renewable energy is swiftly embracing the smart grid. Smart energy delivers approximately 55% of all new capacity added worldwide, the most ever, and total investment was nearly twice the amount for generators powered by fossil fuels. Things are changing. It’s a simple matter of time and gravity.

But if it’s an incentive for change we require, here’s an interesting data-fuelled projection. Renewable Energy World stated that, in order to meet the skyrocketing demand for electricity, Africa might have to triple our energy output by 2030. Clean energy conversions on home and business level is therefore not simply a good thing to do. It is the smart thing to do.

“We would all like to use less electricity, be less dependent on the grid and reduce our environmental impact. Energy Partners Home Solutions is helping homeowners and small business owners achieve this by combining energy efficiency and Solar PV to optimise their home energy.”

Read the full article.