Monthly Archives

March 2018

Blocking IPP signing a ‘delay tactic’ nothing more – Yelland

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Johannesburg – South Africa cannot fight the move towards renewable power, energy expert Chris Yelland said on Tuesday.

Yelland was commenting after the Department of Energy had put the signing of 27 independent power producer (IPP) contracts with private sector companies temporarily on hold in the wake of a last-minute court bid.

New Energy Minister Jeff Radebe was set to sign the 27 independent renewable energy contracts, including power purchase agreements, in Centurion on Tuesday morning.

But late on Monday, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Transform RSA approached the North Gauteng High Court to freeze the contracts, saying they would lead to jobs being lost in South Africa’s coal industry.

While Numsa has maintained that it did, in fact, obtain a court interdict to stop the contracts being signed, the Department of Energy has denied this.

The department said in a media statement on Tuesday that it decided to voluntarily postpone the signing “in the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law”.

Yelland, the investigative editor of EE Publishers, on Tuesday described the court bid as a “delay tactic”, saying the move towards renewable energy is a global trend which would not leave South Africa behind.

“You cannot fight the move to renewable energy, the sector just needs to ensure that there is a just transition,” he said.

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South Africa comes second last on energy transition index

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Johannesburg- South Africa ranked 113th out of 114 countries in the Effective Energy Transitions Index 2018, a report by the World Economic Forum which considers the ability of countries to balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.

“South Africa faces an uphill challenge in ensuring a secure, sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future for industry and society. The country’s energy challenges are marked by under-capacity, under-investment, and inefficiency,” the WEF’s energy team said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Energy Transitions Index found that South Africa currently meets more than 90% of its electricity demand through coal, which results in high per capita emission levels.

“There is immediate need to further diversify the fuel mix, and to create a positive environment for more investment to meet the energy infrastructure demands”, the WEF advised.

The report comes in the same week that the Department of Energy agreed to suspend the long awaited signing of the renewable energy agreement between Eskom and Independent Power Producers (IPP’s)  and wait instead for an outcome to the court challenge by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and Transform SA on March 27.

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Eskom wants a 30% price increase

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If Eskom has its way‚ electricity prices will increase by more than 30% – but only if the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) grants Eskom wishes.

Eskom submitted three Regulatory Clearing Account (RCA) applications to Nersa to try and recover R66-billion for over-expenditure and low sales in 2014/15‚ 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Eskom gave their projected sales and costs to Nersa as part of their RCA applications. Eskom can then retrospectively present the actual figures. If Nersa believes the costs were within Eskom’s control‚ the power utility has to pay for it. Otherwise‚ it is worked into tariff increases to recover it via consumers.

Former senior Eskom executive Ted Blom from Mining and Energy Advisors said if Nersa granted Eskom’s wishes‚ the public is funding the power utility’s “gravy train”.

Blom believes the backlog Eskom is trying to recover is due to corruption and mismanagement.

“The corruption is to a large extent related to the Gupta years.”

Energy analyst Chris Yelland believes looking at the past it is unlikely that Nersa will grant Eskom their wishes. Eskom asked for a 19.9% tariff hike in 2018/19‚ but in December Nersa granted only 5.23%.

“Eskom will be lucky if they get half of what they apply for‚” Yelland said.

“Nersa may decide a good percentage of that was costs that were under Eskom’s control and sales volumes that are under Eskom’s control. They may grant a portion of that R66-billion.”

Blom said Eskom overestimated their sales and assumed the economy would grow 5% annually.

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How do solar PV panels brave the elements?

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Solar PV panels are exposed to the elements year in and year out. Depending on where in South Africa they are installed, they have to withstand extreme heat, strong wind, hail and torrential rain. Before we talk about how they survive the weather, let us first take a look at how they turn sunlight into electricity.

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Image 1: The three main types of solar PV panels on the market.

A solar panel comprises electric wiring and solar cells housed in a protective metal casing. The solar cells are usually made from silicone and convert sunlight (photons) directly into electricity (voltage). When the sunlight hits the solar cells, it interacts with the silicone, which sets the electrons into motion and starts the flow of electricity. There are three main types of solar PV panels on the market, namely thin film, mono silicon and poly silicon panels.

It goes without saying that solar PV panels are most efficient when they receive maximum sunlight, which is why in South Africa they are generally positioned on the north-facing side of a roof. This location leaves them most exposed to the elements. However, they have been designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and can last for years. Here are a few examples of how solar PV panels brave the elements:

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Image 2: Poly Silicon solar PV panels installed on a north facing roof by Energy Partners Home Solutions

Withstanding wind.

Wind load is the pressure that the flow of the wind exerts on the roof, and therefore on the solar PV panels. It differs from region to region and is one of the factors that solar PV installers have to take into account.

A solar PV panel that is not secured properly or placed incorrectly could cause considerable damage when it buckles under a heavy wind load. For example, how far away the panel is placed from the edge of the roof, and how close it is to the roof’s surface, influence its ability to withstand wind load[1].  Before installing panels, solar PV experts first take the relevant wind load per square meter and the strength of the roof into consideration.

One also has to look at how the solar PV panels are fastened to the roof. Surprisingly, many solar PV panel installers do not take wind load into account when they design the mounting structures. Energy Partners Home Solutions, for example, have invested considerable time and effort in researching the fittings that connect the panels to the roof. Their state-of-the art solutions tightly securesthe panels without damaging the roof and is made from high-grade, durable materials. It conforms to European standards in terms of quality and waterproofing.

Premium mounting structures can add up to 5% to the cost of a solar energy system, but it is well worth the investment. They will last as long as the panels themselves, whereas cheaper fittings will often corrode and break during the panels’ lifetime.

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Image 3: Energy Partners Home Solutions’ high-quality mounting structures provide additional support against wind load.

Holding up in extreme heat.

According to Cala van der Westhuizen from Energy Partners Home Solutions: “It sounds counterintuitive, but the hot summer sun baking down on your solar PV panels is not ideal. Solar panels actually become less efficient the more the temperature rises. As a precaution against overheating, we leave a gap between the panel and the surface of the roof to allow for natural ventilation.”

Braving hail and rain.

Solar PV experts recommend placing the panels at an angle of five degrees or more to allow rainwater to run down the panel. This keeps the water from building up on top of the panel, which could affect its efficiency and cause water damage in the long run. At the same time, placing the panel at an angle makes it self-cleaning: As rain and dew glide down the panel, it washes dust and debris away.

It is also important to ensure you purchase solar PV panels and mounting structures that are made from waterproof materials.

Many people who are considering installing solar PV, are worried about whether the panels will be able to withstand hail. We have all seen the destruction that these icy orbs can cause, but solar PV panels are not as easily dented and smashed as car bonnets and windows. Most quality solar PV panels have a weather-resistant covering that provides protection against moisture, dust and hail. Energy Partners Home Solutions’ solar PV panels can withstand hailstones up to the size of golf balls. Take a look at this video to see how solar panels hold up against hail damage.

Will your panels hold up, come rain or shine?

It is important that you only work with reputable suppliers to ensure that your solar PV panels will last a long time. They can give you the assurance that their products have been quality-tested, comply with safety regulations and are made from durable, weatherproof materials. It is equally important to have your system professionally installed, because how the solar PV panels are fitted and positioned affect their efficiency and weather resistance.

Energy Partners Home Solutions only installs Tier 1 solar PV panels, which is the official ranking for the highest quality panels. They offer both thin film and poly silicon technology and their panels typically carry a 25-year guarantee. Furthermore, when Energy Partners Home Solutions install their panels, they consider the optimal panel layout, shading analysis, expected yield and unique weather conditions of the particular location. That is how they ensure their panels will last longer and give clients optimal energy savings, whatever the weather.

 

To find out more, contact Energy Partners Home Solutions today on 0861 000 606 for a free, non-obligatory home energy assessment or visit www.poweryourself.co.za.

Energy Partners, part of the PSG group of companies, has been helping some of South Africa’s most well-known businesses save on their energy costs for over seven years. Energy Partners Home Solutions, a division of Energy Partners, brings the same award-winning solutions to the residential and SME markets by combining state of the art energy e­fficiency technology, solar PV systems and expertise with Energy Partners Home Solutions’ own advanced products. By partnering with Energy Partners, clients can reduce their monthly electricity bills by up to 70%. For more information visit http://www.poweryourself.co.za/ or contact 0861 000 606.

[1] https://www.powerfromsunlight.com/effects-wind-load-solar-pv-panels-protect-solar-panel-system-wind-load/