Monthly Archives

November 2017

These Celebrities Are Using An Ancient Source Of Energy

By | Energy Partners Home Solutions Stories | No Comments

Many of us look to the stars to inspire us when it comes to living our best lives. Some celebrities are all about the flash and start fads that rarely last longer than a season. Others are set on making a lasting difference in the world, and use their influence to inspire us to do the same. Well-known personalities such as tech-trailblazer Elon Musk have been very outspoken about how technology can help us to protect the future. In Hollywood, celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio have also been making headlines with how they are saving the planet.

 

Solar energy is one of the ways in which these pro-earth stars are minimising their carbon footprint. It is clean, renewable energy that is produced by the sun. Through solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, households and businesses can use it to power themselves independently from the government-owned electricity grid. Solar energy will be here for as long as the sun is shining, and most of us can generate our own at home.

 

As an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels, solar energy can help us to conserve the planet and save money. In fact, as part of an efficient, integrated home energy system, solar energy solutions could help cut a household’s monthly electricity bill by as much as 70%.

 

International solar stars

 

To inspire you, here are a few stars that are utilising the sun to power their households:

Johnny Depp

 

Johnny Depp

Hollywood icon Johnny Depp.
Source: Wikipedia.org

The world’s favourite on-screen pirate owns an island in real life that is fully powered by a solar-hydrogen energy system. This planet-friendly, self-sufficient piece of paradise is situated in the Bahamas and utilises an energy solution designed by renewable energy trailblazer, Mike Strizki.

Johnny Depp’s Island

Johnny Depp’s private, solar-powered island in the Bahamas. Image: www.pulseday.com

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

Oscar-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio.
Source: Wikipedia.org

Leonardo DiCaprio is very vocal about the reality of climate change, even speaking out against it in his 2016 Oscars acceptance speech. In that same year, he co-produced a documentary in which he explores the devastating effects of climate change and looks at possible solutions. (The full documentary can be viewed for free here.) He regards renewable energy as a way to help heal the planet. Not only does his home sport solar PV panels, but he used the sun’s energy to power the set of his 2010 movie, Inception. DiCaprio has also produced a documentary called Catching the Sun, which unpacks the economic and environmental benefits of going solar.

 

DiCaprio’s House

DiCaprio’s planet-friendly home in Los Angeles. Image: celebcasas.com

 

Edward Norton

Edward Norton

Environmental activist and actor Edward Norton.
Source: Wikipedia.org

The Fight Club actor is an environmental champion. He not only uses solar power to keep the lights on in his own home, but it was his bright idea to help low-income families do the same through the BP Solar Neighbors programme. The programme donates a home solar solution to a low-income family for every celebrity purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts

Leading lady Julia Roberts.
Source: Wikipedia.org

The Pretty Woman star is more than a pretty face. Her environmental consciousness is inspiring and her eco-friendly home something to aspire to: It is not only powered by the sun, but built with wood sourced from sustainably managed forests and the bathrooms are fitted with recycled tiles.

 

 

Julia Robert’s mansion

Julia Robert’s solar-powered Malibu mansion makes the most of the area’s abundant sunshine. Image: therealdeal.com

 

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan

James Bond star Pierce Brosnan.
Source: Wikipedia.org

Famous for his role as 007, Pierce Brosnan is an agent for environmental change. His efforts have been recognised by America’s National Environmental Hall of Fame, which honours top environmentalists. He produces his own clean power at home through solar PV and even has an energy-savvy toaster that is powered by an exercise bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett

Solar supporter and actress Cate Blanchett.
Source: Wikipedia.org

Cate Blanchett is a staunch solar supporter both at home and at work. As Co-Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company, she supported the installation of over

1 900 solar panels on the theatre’s roof in 2010. At the time, it was Australia’s second-largest solar power system.

 

 

Sydney Theatre Company

Solar advocate Cate Blanchett supported the installation of 1 900 solar panels on the roof of the Sydney Theatre Company.

Leading the way locally

 

Wimpie van der Sandt

Van der Sandt

Bok Radio’s Wimpie van der Sandt. Image source: Facebook.com

In February 2017, Bokradio’s breakfast show presenter, Wimpie van der Sandt, made his home in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs more energy-efficient. He installed an integrated home energy system from Energy Partners Home Solutions, which has helped him to save close to R20 000 on electricity to date. His home energy solution comprises efficient water heating, solar PV and Energy Partners Home Solutions’ state-of-the-art Icon™ battery/inverter combo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Become a solar superstar

You, too, can go green and save on electricity in your household: Thanks to ever-improving technology, it is now more affordable and simpler than ever before to power yourself with the sun.

To find out more about Energy Partners Home Solutions’ modular energy solutions that suit your budget and lifestyle, contact us today for a free, no-obligation home energy assessment. Visit www.poweryourself.co.za or call 0861 000 606.

We’re Taking A Roadtrip Into The Near Future With EVs

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

It is no longer controversial to say that electric transport will be the dominant means of travel very soon. With the realisation of this possibility, the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), or notion at least, has enjoyed steady growth. In fact, according to a recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), by 2040, 33% of cars globally will be electric, as too will 54% of new car sales. The benefits of EVs are numerous and obvious, especially since petrol is not planet-friendly, nonrenewable and becoming increasingly more expensive.

Tesla

Tesla charging station

EVs now even enjoy the same superb performance statistics as many of the top combustion fired engines do: Tesla’s P100D can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.38 seconds. It is no wonder, then, that the defenders of our current reliance on nonrenewable energy are now most certainly in the minority.

 

The Nissan Leaf, for instance, a compact five-door hatchback, was the first ever all-electrical vehicle to go on sale in South Africa. It boasts an impressive range of about 195 km on a single charge, enough for the average weekly commute in a city environment. BMW currently has two options available in South Africa: the i3 and i8. While the i8 is a hybrid vehicle, meaning it uses both petrol and electricity, reaching a maximum range of 37 km on electricity alone, the i3 is all-electric and has a range of between 129 km to 161 km, depending on how efficiently you drive. There are many other models currently available and being developed.

 

Rising petrol prices are always a concern for South African drivers. Perhaps the most standout feature of EVs, is the fact that, when it comes to petrol, they offer a lower running cost.

 

Costs Graph

The graph compares the cost of driving a Nissan Leaf compared to a petrol-fuelled and a hybrid model respectively. It is based on a petrol price of R13 per liter and an electricity cost of R1.19 per kWh.

 

All of these benefits considered: Why are only a handful of South Africans driving EVs?

 

Implementation speed bumps in South Africa.

In South Africa there are a few barriers to adoption, including the lack of infrastructure, vehicle range and the current cost. And so there are indeed the nay-sayers, yet the demand for EVs in South Africa, according to a poll conducted by Wheels 24, looks very promising, with most respondents saying they would consider purchasing one. In this same survey, however, consumers also expressed concern about the range of EVs, although this would just be a symptom of an altogether different problem. Many EVs have actually got very reasonable ranges, depending on how you use them; in city driving conditions (the most conducive to efficiency) many EVs can provide a range of between 129-195 km.

 

However, were South Africa even to develop the necessary charge infrastructure, the power being used would have to come from the grid—a resource already under considerable strain. And as the price of these vehicles drop, and the adoption begins to uptick, so too would demand on the grid. This would result in a situation currently developing elsewhere, with cost fluctuations incentivising off-peak charging to better meet this increased demand. Charging your EV from the grid at a charge station, or even from home, would become increasingly expensive during peak hours. The BNEF study notes that, with the 8 million barrels per day displacement that EVs will cause by 2040, comes a 5% increase in demand for grid provided electricity. The first reaction to this problem might be to charge your EV off-peak, but an even more effective response would be to charge off-grid entirely—preferably at no cost to you, such as would be the case when using a home PV solar system. Elon Musk’s master plan (to be discussed later) actually foresees just such a future.

 

Cost is likely one of the bigger barriers to adoption. On the budget-conscious side of the spectrum, the Nissan Leaf will set you back about R450 000, which is by no means “cheap”. On the price-is-no-obstacle side, you have the BMW i8, starting at R1 755 000, which, even for a supercar, is pretty pricey. But these are early days yet, and as the technology advances and production costs decrease, we will begin to see these prices reach levels that the average consumer would consider reasonable. Tesla’s (who unfortunately has yet to export its models to SA) Elon Musk calls this the master plan part deux: producing high-cost, high-performance, but ultimately low-volume EVs, which would cover the cost of the R&D, with the end of producing an incrementally more affordable, and therefore high-volume unit for a broader market. It has even been suggested that EVs will reach unsubsidised parity with traditional, internal combustion engine cars by 2029.

 

BMWi8

A BMW i8

 

Solar at home paves the way.

Installing a solar PV system at home would dramatically increase the attractiveness of owning an EV. As your savings on both the cost of fuel and grid electricity accumulate, your investment in this technology will begin generating a handsome return.

 

The graph below is a highly simplified comparison between the cost of driving a solar-powered Nissan Leaf EV with driving a petrol-powered Polo 1.4 Trendline over a period of 15 years. The cost of powering the EV with PV stays constant over the 15-year period, while it gets increasingly more expensive to drive the fossil fuel-dependent vehicle. This is because, unlike petrol, the energy generated by a solar PV system is free.

 

Cost Comparison

Source: Energy Partners Home Solutions

 

According to an article that appeared on Wheels24, experts predict that by 2025, petrol-powered vehicles and EVs will cost the same. This means that, soon, there will be even more incentive to go the EV route.

 

We all know that a car is not an investment, and that it actually depreciates in value, but with this generous return in savings with home solar PVs, can EVs be described as another beast altogether? It certainly seems that way.

Head in the sand: Eskom fails in a land of cheap energy

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Dom Williams of SOLA Future Energy has recently written this article for Fin24 regarding Eskom’s inability to produce cheaper energy.

Renewables pose a threat to coal and nuclear, because wind and solar are undeniably cheaper forms of energy, argues Dom Wills.

This year Eskom turned 94 years old. But so far 2017 has been one of the most damaging years yet for South African’s besieged power utility.

In 2008 and 2014 Eskom had to cope with load shedding and the power utility took a lot of heat for the rolling blackouts and the subsequent damage to the economy. Yet, during those years, Eskom was at least perceived to be the good guys doing a tough job.

This apparent positive spin led to many South Africans and businesses supporting Eskom’s initiatives to cut energy consumption and increase efficiency.

In contrast, 2017 paints a bleak picture. When compared to 10 years before, the figures speak for themselves. In 2007, Eskom sold 218 TWh electricity for 18.33c per kwh at a 16.11% profit margin. A decade later in 2017, Eskom sold less power – 214 TWh electricity for 82.66c per kWh at a 0.5% profit margin.

Thus, in the last 10 years, the state utility has grown worse off. It is selling less power, for higher tariffs, at a lower profit margin. This begs the question whether solutions exist that could reduce Eskom’s costs and boost profit. And could Eskom implement these solutions?

Click here to read the full article.

 

SACS Invests In Renewable Energy System

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

South Africa College High School (SACS) in Cape Town has made a commitment to clean energy by installing a solar system at its Rosedale Boarding House. The solar system was installed by Energy Partners Home Solutions, part of the PSG group of companies.

Barry van Selm, Deputy Headmaster at SACS explains that installing a solar system at the school was an easy choice. “SACS has become very aware of its carbon footprint, so a renewable energy option was important to us. In the past five years we have also seen huge increases in electricity tariffs so we needed to find a sustainable way of bringing those costs down.”

According to Cala van der Westhuizen, Head of Marketing and Sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions, schools like SACS, with boarding houses and plenty of activity over weekends and holidays, are the perfect place to install solar systems as these types of properties consume most of their energy during the day’s peak solar hours, and can therefore maximise the financial benefits of a renewable energy solution.

He says that the Energy Partners team achieved some interesting results while still working within the parameters that were set by SACS as well as regulatory requirements.

Van der Westhuizen explains that the Energy Partners’ team started off with an in-depth analysis into the requirements of the boarding house. “This involved taking the generation capacity that regulations would permit the team to install, into consideration.”

“According to our findings, we could install a 25 kilowatt inverter at the boarding house, which is the maximum size allowed under NRS regulations for the specific infrastructure of the site. With the actual solar array we had a bit more leeway, so we installed 30.88kWp of multicrystalline solar panels.”

This enables the system to produce at the converter’s maximum level for as long as possible during peak hours and also produce excess power that the school will be able to possibly sell back to the City of Cape Town, says van der Westhuizen.

Van Selm says that as part of the system, the school received a tracking tool that allows them to monitor the system in real time. “Being able to track the system’s energy production is very interesting and allows us to see the results. Our first electrical bill has not arrived yet, but based on what we have seen from the monitoring tool, our use of electricity from the grid has been cut by about one third which amounts to a saving of around R75 000 at the current electricity tariffs.”

“We are very excited about the results we have seen so far and looking forward to reducing our carbon footprint and electricity bills even further in the near future,” Van Selm concludes.

Business Day: Eskom must come clean on coal, groups tell Nersa hearings

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Business Day has reported on the Nersa hearing.

Eskom was sharply criticised at National Energy Regulator (Nersa) subcommittee hearings for trying to keep some of its operating data secret.

This especially related to the utility’s coal costs that were overshadowed by its dealings with the Gupta family.

The castigation comes amid widespread criticism of the parastatal for recently submitting a one-year revenue application for 2018-19 that seeks permission from Nersa to deviate from the multiyear price determination (MYPD) methodology and minimum information requirements used for tariff applications.

The utility is again pleading that it is short of money.

“Eskom has put forward the best information we have,” Calib Cassim, Eskom GM for financial planning and economic regulation, said.

But he also said the utility’s systems were unable to provide disaggregated financial data related to coal purchasing, handling and other costs at the level of each of its power stations.

Read the full article here.

Fin24: Why Eskom is asking for a 19.9% tariff hike

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Fin24 has recently reported on the reason why Eskom is asking for a 10.9% tariff hike.
Johannesburg – Eskom was making a sacrifice on its allowable returns in its latest tariff application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), which will see a drop of R12bn in returns.

This is according to Eskom’s team of experts who unpacked the details of the power utility’s application for a tariff hike of 19.9% to the regulator for the 2018/19 year.

Nersa has given Eskom the green light to pursue the hike and hearings into the viability of the proposed tariff increase is scheduled for later this year.

Eskom wants its allowable revenue to increase to R219.5bn, up from the allowable revenue of R205.5bn which Nersa maintained for the 2017/18 year. Essentially the 2.2% increase for 2017/18 was below inflation, said Deon Joubert, corporate specialist of finance and economic regulation.

Hasha Tlhotlhalemaje, general manager of regulation said that in essence Eskom was asking for an absolute revenue increase of R14.3bn. “This is a 7% increase from the previous allowable revenue (approved by Nersa),” she said.

Of this 3.6% of the allowable revenue will be generated from standard tariffs, which is comprised of local customers and the remaining 3.4% of revenue would be generated from export and Negotiated Pricing Agreement (NPA) customers, she explained.

If the application succeeds, Eskom expects an income of R206.2bn from tariffs, Fin4 reported previously. Its average tariff is expected to then rise from 89c per kWh to R1.07 per kWh.

In monetary terms this R219.5bn comes from an increase in primary energy sources of R1bn, an increase of R11.2bn in local Independent Power producers (IPPs), an increase of R13.2bn for operating costs and a R2.8bn increase in international purchases. No change is expected in the level of depreciation. The environmental levy is also expected to decrease with R1.8bn

Eskom is also taking into account that returns will drop R12bn from Nersa’s previous decision. if this decision was not made, the price increase would have been “phenomenally” higher, explained Tlhotlhalemaje.

Read the full article here.

Business Tech: How much it costs to buy and own an electric car in South Africa

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Business Tech has published this article regarding the cost of electric cars.

 

A recent report by Ashburton investments found that South Africa should prepare for the advent of electric cars, noting the possible effects they are likely to have on the industry and consumers.

While the full impact of the electric-car is still some way off, driving an electronic car or hybrid is becoming an increasingly attractive option in South Africa as a means to negate the volatile fuel price and as the motor industry becomes increasingly environmentally conscious.

The increase in electric-only models such as the Nissan Leaf may just be the tipping point as the vehicles become more affordable, while petrol prices increase.

BusinessTech looks at the cost factors associated with buying and owning an electric or hybrid car in South Africa.

South Africa currently only has three electric models, with Tesla touted to enter the market sometime in the future.

 

Electric models

 

  • BMW i3  – R606,800
  • Nissan Leaf  – R474,900
  • BMW i3 eDrive REx – R683,600

Hybrid cars

 

At present there are three different types of hybrid cars in South Africa: full hybrids, combined hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Full hybrids typically allow you to swap between petrol and electric modes at will, combined hybrids will always use a combination of both, and plug-ins typically use a much larger battery but require an actual plug-in point for it’s not petrol components.

All of these hybrids rely on pulling their electricity from an included battery pack and electric motor but differ in the manner in which they are replenished. These can include systems such as regenerative braking, stop-start’ technology and alternating between the motor/generator at various points of the drive cycle.

  • Mercedes-Benz C350e – R804,900
  • BMW i8 eDrive  – R2,015,300
  • Volvo XC90  – R1,117,600
  • Porsche Cayenne S  – R1,531,000
  • Toyota Prius – R457,600
  • Toyota Prius – R457,600
  • Infiniti Q50S Hybrid – R709,100
  • BMW X5 xDrive40e eDrive – R1,207,800

Read the full article here.