Monthly Archives

August 2017

All Volvo cars to be electric or hybrid from 2019

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Click here to read the full article on The Guardian.

 

Landmark move as first big manufacturer says it will stop making vehicles solely powered by internal combustion engine.

All new cars launched by Volvo from 2019 onwards will be partially or completely battery-powered, in what the company called a “historic end” to building models that only have an internal combustion engine.

Between 2019 and 2021, the firm will introduce five 100% electric models, and ensure the rest of its conventional petrol and diesel range has a hybrid engine of some form. It is the first major manufacturer to make such a bold move.

Håkan Samuelsson, the Volvo chief executive, said: “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car.”

He said the company was reacting to customers who had asked for electric cars, though the move will also help the Swedish firm meet legally-binding carbon targets for new cars sold in the EU from 2020.

The carmaker, owned by Chinese automotive giant Geely, has yet to build a single fully electric car but already sells five plug-in hybrid models that can run a few dozen miles on battery power before switching to a conventional engine.

The pricing of those models suggests drivers will pay a premium for future Volvo cars – the basic plug-in hybrid version of its XC90 SUV crossover costs £61,650, £13,250 more than the basic diesel edition.

 

How commercial property projects can avoid fluctuating price of solar installation

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The cost of installing photovoltaic (PV) systems could rise in the fourth quarter (Q4) of this year, according to Charl du Plessis, Head of Project Development at EP Solar, a division of Energy Partners and part of the PSG group of companies.

He says the cost of solar panels will increase by about 7% in Q4 of 2017, as a result of the increase in the demand for PV systems worldwide. “This will effectively increase the cost of constructing a commercial 1MW PV installation in Q4 of this year by around R680 000.”

The price increase is temporary, with costs expected to equalise by the first and second quarters of 2018. “However, it is not realistic for commercial projects to wait for temporary price spikes like this to pass before commissioning a new PV system.”

Installing PV systems are still valuable as the overall trend in the cost of solar has been downward, he says. “Ten years ago the average payback period of a commercial rooftop PV system was around seven years. It is now very common to see payback periods of under five years.”

Du Plessis explains that commercial solar in South Africa has shown an increased interest from the property market, with especially large property groups actively searching for alternative energy solutions. “It is also interesting to see that the knowledge and understanding around solar technology has definitely increased in this market. Many of the clients that approach us for alternative energy solutions have done their homework and know exactly what they are looking for in terms of capacity and performance.”

According to Du Plessis, it is vital for players in the commercial market to have access to the most cost-effective PV solutions when they need them and not have to stall projects because the price is too high. “A 7% price increase, like we are seeing in the cost of solar, absolutely affects the payback period of a system, but one cannot delay an entire construction project by three to six months as a result of it. Partnering with large solar providers that manage their logistics and warehousing in-house, is therefore paramount,” he says.

Du Plessis explains that established solar technology providers and installers are capable of absorbing temporary price hikes more effectively. “A technology provider needs to have enough stock in-house, and optimised procurement procedures such as off-take agreements with preferred suppliers in place, in order to reduce the impact of temporary price spikes.”

EP Solar has not only taken its logistics and warehousing functions in-house for this reason, but the company also manages its own installation, he says.

“It is important to understand that the quality of installation is the one aspect that sets solar providers apart more than any other. Having the highest quality Tier 1 PV systems installed by contractors that do not do the job right diminishes the effectiveness of the entire system. Every part of an installation, from the bend radiuses of power cables, to the planning of maintenance walkways all play a massive part throughout the lifetime of the installed system.” Du Plessis concludes.

 

Click here to read the full article on SA Property Insider.

UK to ban sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040

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Britain said Wednesday it will outlaw the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040 in a bid to cut air pollution but environmental groups said the proposals did not go far enough.

 

Environment minister Michael Gove announced the move as part of the government’s keenly-awaited £3 billion ($3.9 billion, 3.4 billion euro) air pollution plan, which will demand that councils propose measures by March next year to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

The ban on petrol and diesel cars as well as vans follows a similar proposal by the French government, and will also include hybrid vehicles that have an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine.

“The Conservatives had a manifesto promise to ensure that by 2050 there would be no diesel or petrol vehicles on the road and today we’re confirming that should mean no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040,” Gove told BBC Radio 4.

Britain’s High Court demanded that the government produce plans to tackle illegal NO2 pollution, largely caused by diesel emissions, and a draft report was published in May, but the full report was delayed by last month’s snap general election.

The government will provide local councils with £255 million to bring NO2 levels to legal levels, with possible solutions including the removal of speed humps, reprogramming traffic lights and changing road layouts.

Campaigners want cities to impose entry fees on diesel drivers, but councils will only be allowed to do so if no other measures are available, with ministers wary of “punishing” drivers of cars who bought their vehicles in good faith, according to media reports.

– Jobs warning -“Diesel drivers are not to blame and, to help them switch to cleaner vehicles, the government will consult on a targeted scrappage scheme, one of a number of measures to support motorists affected by local plans,” a government spokesman said.

Gove added that he did not believe “that it is necessary to bring in charging.”

Campaign group ClientEarth warned that health issues “caused by exposure to illegal air pollution are happening now, so we need urgent action.”

Fellow campaigners Greenpeace also warned that the plans did not do enough to combat the immediate issue of NO2 pollution in cities

“While this plan makes the right headline-grabbing noises, in reality it means that children across the UK will continue to be exposed to harmful air pollution for years to come, with potentially irreversible impacts,” said Areeba Hamid, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

“Providing a long term vision is not enough, (Michael) Gove still needs protect our health right now from toxic fumes polluting our streets.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that the move could cost jobs.

“Currently demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles is growing but still at a very low level as consumer have concern over affordability, range and charging points,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

“Outright bans risk undermining the current market for new cars and our sector which supports over 800,000 jobs across the UK, we could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust.”

Air pollution contributes to the death of more than 40,000 people per year in Britain, according to official figures, with nitrogen dioxide a particular problem.

Norway, which is aiming to end the use of all cars running on fossil fuels by 2025, offers generous tax breaks for electric vehicles as well as free parking and the use of bus lanes. DM

 

This article is posted on the Daily Maverick, please click here to read the original article.

Seven Questions To Ask Before Choosing a Solar Solutions Supplier

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The rising cost of electricity and a global drive towards earth-friendly energy alternatives have meant that more and more people are interested in going solar. Which means that more and more solar solutions suppliers are springing up. With so many suppliers out there, how do you choose the right one? Here are seven questions you should ask before you decide:

1. Does the supplier have a proven track record and a solid reputation?

 

Solar Installation

Ensure your solar solutions supplier has the necessary experience and expertise.

 

The most important consideration when looking at Solar suppliers is to choose someone with a proven track record that shows they have the necessary experience and expertise to install reliable, efficient solar solutions.

Here, it is important to check that the supplier’s expertise lies specifically in solar energy. Your supplier should not only be up-to-date with the latest solar technologies, but they should have the experience of having completed numerous solar installations across a wide selection of residential challenges. Your solar solutions supplier should be able to show you examples of successful installations that they have done for other homeowners to give you an idea of the type of workmanship and service you can expect. In short, they should be able to provide references from satisfied homeowners.

Cala van der Westhuizen from Energy Partners Home Solutions, a leading energy solutions provider in South Africa that forms part of the PSG Group of companies, adds: “Find a supplier that has been in business for some time and runs a stable operation. Remember that the lifespan of an energy system is crucial to its value, which means that it should be producing electricity during the lifetime of the system. You should always ask yourself – will the supplier still be around in a couple of years?

No matter how big their business or how long they have been in the solar energy game, a supplier’s reputation always precedes them. This is why we advise you to always get

a third-party opinion. You can do this by looking up the supplier’s social media pages to see what people are posting about them on their wall or in the comments section. You can also search online for testimonials and reviews on sites like Hello Peter where the community rates and reviews suppliers. Lastly, if you see that your neighbours or friends have recently install a home solar system you should ask them what they thought of their supplier.

 

2. What is the return on investment?

 

Although solar technology is becoming increasingly more affordable, it could still be a costly exercise. That is why you should take into account whether the system you are thinking of installing will give you a good return on investment.

“A good home solar energy system can cut your electricity bill by as much as 70%. This means that on a R30 000 bill you can potentially save R20 000, depending on how much roof space you have available. So a proper solar solution should pay for itself with what it saves you on electricity. In fact, a carefully planned and designed solution could pay for itself within five years. Ask your supplier if they can make this promise,” says Van der Westhuizen.

If you are still in the planning stages of building your home and worried that a home solar energy system will drive up the price of your bond, keep in mind that the right home energy solution will save you more in electricity costs over the lifespan of the system than the increase in bond repayments. If you look at the below graph, it should give you a clear idea of the impact of a home energy system on a home loan payment over 20 years.

 

Repayment Graph

Solar savings tables provided by Energy Partners Home Solution.

 

3. Are the supplier’s systems regulation-compliant?

 

Solar energy systems have to comply with certain local regulations and most municipalities require that you apply for permission to connect your system to the grid, otherwise you risk facing harsh penalties or even having your system disconnected. Your solar solutions supplier should advise you on, or even manage, this process on your behalf to help you ensure your system is compliant. It has happened often at Energy Partners Home Solutions that new customers with existing systems discover that their original suppliers never registered their systems, and that when they want to confront them they are either unwilling to help or they have shut their doors on the business.

 

4. Is the supplier using the latest technology?

 

Solar technology is improving at a rapid pace to keep up with the fast-growing industry. It is therefore important that your solar solutions supplier is up to date with the latest technology and is able to provide you with the best possible solar solutions on the market.

Van der Westhuizen agrees: “At Energy Partners Home Solutions, for one, we are continuously searching for new ways to make our clients less dependent on grid-tied electricity and help them save even more money on their utility bills. For example, we developed our own hybrid inverter, the Icon™ home energy system. It not only works like a regular inverter, but can also integrate a home’s storage batteries and manage its hot water system to maximise savings. It is a first of its kind in South Africa.”

 

ICON

Energy Partners Home Solutions developed their own hybrid energy inverter – the Icon™ – to help homeowners maximise their electricity savings.

 

5. Are the supplier’s solutions right for you?

 

House

The size of the home is only one of the considerations when a solar solutions supplier assesses a homeowner’s energy requirements.

 

A good solar solutions supplier takes the individual needs of their customers into account and offers customised solutions that meet their unique home energy requirements. Before installing a solar system, the supplier should first do a thorough home energy assessment, taking into account factors such as the size of the home, number of family members and the area in which the home is located.

“No two clients are the same. When it comes to water heating, for example, Energy Partners Home Solutions will recommend a solution based on the amount of sunshine in your area, the warm water demand of the household and also what has already been installed. Based on these factors, we will find you the ideal solution for your household,” Van der Westhuizen explains.

 

6. Does the supplier take a holistic approach?

 

Your solar solutions supplier should be able to see the bigger picture when it comes to helping you save on electricity. They must be able to offer you more than solar PV and recommend additional other energy-efficient solutions.

Van der Westhuizen adds: “As much as 40% of the energy that traditional solar PV systems could generate is wasted, as it often goes unused. A smart system designer will make sure that the maximum amount of energy is produced smart design, optimised usage and efficient storage.

 

7. Does the supplier have foresight?

 

Your solar solutions supplier must be able to help you plan properly. When implementing a solar solution into a new home design, ensure they are capable of working with your architect and builder to understand your requirements and effectively incorporate the system in your project plan. The solar energy supplier should instruct your builder or electrician to install the required wiring as part of your renovation or building project to avoid extra costs later and to ensure a neat installation.

It is also important that your supplier understands which loads are essential to you during power outages and which loads are less essential. It is recommended that you instruct your electrician to split your electrical distribution board (DB) into essential and non-essential loads. Your prospective solar solutions supplier should be able to help you determine whether your electrical distribution board will be big enough to accommodate the extra equipment required for the solar PV and backup system you need, because it is difficult to expand your electrical distribution board at a later stage.

 

Ask the right questions

 

As you can tell from these seven questions, price should not be the only consideration when choosing a solar solutions supplier. Therefore, when you compare quotes from different suppliers, do not forget to also ask the right questions to ensure you receive the right energy solutions.


 

Read more about this in the press:

 

Property Wheel – Solar Solution Suppliers. The Seven Vital Questions To Ask.

Crown Publications – Seven questions to ask when choosing a solar solutions provider.