Monthly Archives

May 2018

ESI: NERSA withdraws its draft for small-scale embedded generation rules

By | Articles | No Comments

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has welcomed the decision by NERSA to withdraw the proposed rules to govern the registration of Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) below 1 megawatt.

The proposed SSEG rules were published for public comment by the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) on its website on 26 April.

On Monday (21 May), NERSA’s executive manager for electricity regulation, Mbulelo Ncetezo, told a news channel, SABC2, that the draft rules have been withdrawn until the Department of Energy gazettes a revised notice on this.

“OUTA believes there is a lack of clarity by those in authority as to the need and purpose for the registration of small-scale energy generation and, more worrying, is NERSA’s readiness to administer the registration process,” says Ronald Chauke, OUTA’s energy portfolio manager.

Objecting NERSA’s proposed rules

Earlier this month, the organisation formally objected to NERSA’s proposed rules. Read more: NERSA clarifies draft rules consultation paper for SSEG

OUTA has called on the Department of Energy (DoE) to level the playing field and create an enabling environment by clarifying to what extent the public and commercially interested entities would be empowered to introduce self-sufficiency initiatives to meet their daily electricity requirements.


To read the full article, click HERE.

The history and bright future of solar energy

By | Articles | No Comments

As a source of life, light and warmth, the sun has fascinated humans for thousands of years. Since our species are resourceful by nature, it is no wonder that people have been finding ways to harness its power for centuries.

6 000 BC – 100 BC: Solar architecture.

Some ancient civilisations are known to have utilised the power of the sun through clever architecture. As early as 6 000 BC, Chinese families built their homes with a single, south-facing opening that caught the low winter sun and retained the heat inside.

Image 1: The remnants of an ancient Roman home in Pompeii. The covered porch (portico) naturally controlled the temperature inside the home. Photo: F. Tronchin/Warren, Peristyle, Casa della Venere in Conchiglia, Pompeii, BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the West, the respected Greek philosopher Socrates (470 – 399 BC) advocated the building of homes that faced southward and featured covered porches. These porticoes kept the warm rays at bay in summer, when the sun sits higher, but let the sunlight in during the winter. Socrates’ recommendation came at a time when Greece was experiencing an energy crisis: The price of coal and wood was rising and citizens had to find ways of becoming more energy efficient (which sounds rather familiar today).

The ancient Romans borrowed many ideas from their Greek neighbours and their solar energy solutions were no exception. They, too, applied solar architecture, but took it a step further by covering their windows with transparent materials such as mica or clear glass. They realised that transparent materials trapped the heat from the sun and, today, glass-covered windows are a standard feature of most modern buildings.

The most impressive example of how the ancient Romans used windows to utilise the sun’s power can be seen in their bathhouses. The bathhouses formed the backbone of Roman society and were centres for socialising, networking and relaxing. They were heated through the use of furnaces and hypocaust systems that circulated the hot air. To optimise heat generation and retention, the bathhouses often featured large, south-facing windows. The Baths of Caracalla, for one, featured an impressive south-facing window that spanned the whole wall and was covered in see-through glass. When the sun baked through the expansive window, it effectively turned the room into a sauna.

Circa 1 000 BC – 1500s AD: “Burning” mirrors

Around 3 000 years ago in China, reflective, concave bronze mirrors, called yang-sui, were used to start a fire by focussing the sunlight.

Image 2: An ancient solar device: The Chinese used bronze mirrors as sun-reflecting fire starters. Source:

The ancient Greeks and Romans were also known to have used reflective mirrors for lighting torches during religious ceremonies. According to legend, this technology was taken to the extreme by the thinker Archimedes when he constructed his fabled “death ray” in the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC. The “death ray” was created when the Greek soldiers used mirrored shields to turn the sunlight into a devastating blaze when it was deflected towards the invading Roman fleet.


Image 3: Archimedes’ “death ray” depicted by 17th century Italian painter Giulio Parigi. Source: Wikipedia

The idea of using a concave, reflective surface to harness sunlight was further explored by Renaissance luminary Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519). He imagined a water heating system for the city of Florence that comprised a series of concave mirrors that turned the power of the sun into thermal energy.

1767: The Hot Box.

In 1767, Swiss polymath Horace-Bénédict de Saussure conducted a series of experiments to determine how well glass could capture solar heat. He built a glass-topped wooden box that was insulated with black cork and had a similar, but smaller, box placed on the inside. When the box was positioned directly in the sunlight, the temperature inside exceeded the boiling point of water. For obvious reasons, his contraption was dubbed the Hot Box and it paved the way for the thermal collectors we use to heat our homes and water today.

1839: The photovoltaic effect.

Think of solar energy and most of us think of shiny solar panels on rooftops. The solar cells contained within these PV (photovoltaic) panels work on a principle discovered by French physicist Edmond Becquerel. In 1839, he discovered that silver chloride submerged in an acidic solution and connected to platinum electrodes, can generate electricity when it is illuminated.

1896: Hot water.

In 1896, the American inventor Clarence Kemp used Saussure’s Hot Box concept as a basis for inventing the world’s first solar water heater. Kemp’s creation was simply a water tank inside a black box placed in direct sunlight.

Water heating technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Today, there are much more sophisticated and efficient solutions on the market, but the principal stay the same: The sun does most of the work.

1876 – 1900s: The first solar cells.

In 1876, Brits William Grylls Adams and his student, Richard Day, further developed the photovoltaic concept. Together, they created the first solar cells when they discovered that selenium produced electricity when it was exposed to light. Selenium was not efficient, but in 1953, Americans Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chapin discovered that silicon is a highly effective alternative. Today, most solar panels are made with silicon PV cells.

2 000s and beyond.

In a report released in October 2017, the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that solar energy is the world’s fastest growing source of power. According to the IEA, a third of the world w

Image 4: The world’s first solar-powered skyscraper, the Sol Invictus, could see the light in Melbourne in the near future.

ill be powered by the sun by 2060. The future of solar energy is indeed bright, with many modern thinkers coming up with brilliant new ideas for utilising the power of the sun:

Peddle Thorp, an Australian architecture firm, has draw up plans for a solar-powered skyscraper in Melbourne. It is called the Sol Invictus (“invincible sun”) and, while many buildings are built to deflect the harsh sunlight, this skyscraper welcomes it. Everything from its orientation to its oval shape and the height of its windows has been designed for optimal sun exposure. The dream is to fit 400 square meters of solar PV panels onto the roof and cover the façade in 3 500 square meters of solar PV cells.

One company is also paving the way for solar energy-generating roads. The US company Solar Roadways has designed a series of hexagonal tiles that are embedded with solar PV cells and can be placed over existing tarred roads.  Each tile holds a 44-watt solar panel and approximately 170 tiles could fully power a standard household. Solar Roadways started testing their prototype in October 2016, when they unveiled an installation of solar tiles in Idaho. The installation is powering a public restroom and a nearby water feature.

The future is here

Today, the latest advancements in efficient, renewable energy are available to just about any homeowner; and it is more affordable than what you might think. Even if you cannot afford to purchase a system straight away, Energy Partners Home Solutions offers various financing options to make it even easier for you to own a home energy system. To find out more, call Energy Partners Home Solutions on 0861 000 606 for a free, no-obligation home energy assessment or visit

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 or contact 0861 000 606.

Three things you should do before going off the grid

By | Articles | No Comments

In energy terms, “going off the grid” means living independently from our national electricity supplier and becoming self-sufficient by generating your own energy. An increasing number of homeowners are taking the leap towards grid-independence – and with good reason. Quality renewable energy solutions are often more dependable than the grid, and can help homeowners to beat the rising cost of electricity. Many conscientious people also choose renewable energy alternatives because they want to minimise their carbon footprint.


Image 1: You can break free from the grid and generate our own energy, but do your homework before you take the leap. 


Keep in mind that you can become more energy efficient without severing your ties to the grid completely. In other words, you still receive electricity from the national utility, but supplement it with self-generated clean energy and replace your old electric appliances and geysers with energy-efficient alternatives. You can also install a backup system that you can tap into when your self-generated electricity supply is insufficient.

For many people, it is all or nothing when it comes to grid independence. They might live in a remote area where there is no access to electricity, or simply be determined to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Whatever your reasons, if you are thinking of going 100% off the grid, there is one thing you should know: It is not that simple to get back onto the grid once you are off. That is why you have to ensure that you install a home energy solution that meets your energy requirements 100%, can be monitored and adjusted when necessary, and comes with a backup plan. Here are three things you should do before going off the grid:

  1. Define your energy requirements.

Consider factors such as the energy efficiency of your home, the size of your family, your budget, your location and your lifestyle. An energy expert will be able to guide you, but even before you speak to your supplier, you should have an idea of what you expect and need from a home energy system.

Image 2: The energy efficiency of your home will determine factors such as how many solar PV panels and storage batteries you will need to keep the lights on.

First, keep in mind that the size of your home does not necessarily determine the size of the energy system you require. A large house may have been designed and built for optimum energy efficiency, and could therefore use less electricity and require a smaller system than a more modest house. Take a look at your monthly electricity bill and compare costs with friends and neighbours – if you think you are paying too much for electricity, your home is probably not as energy efficient as it could be.

Your lifestyle is another important consideration. Some people naturally use less electricity than others. If your family goes to bed early, your electricity needs will be different to night owls that keep the lights and television on until midnight. Are you outdoorsy or go away every weekend? You may need less energy than homebodies.

Your location will also determine which home energy solution is best for you. The Western Cape, for example, has wet, overcast winters, so a heat pump is a better option than a solar water heater, because it does not need the sun to generate energy.

Lastly, your budget will ultimately dictate the size of your home energy solution and to what extent you can break free from the grid. Remember, even if you cannot spend a lot at first, you can always start small and build onto your system over time.

Once you have an overview of your unique energy requirements and know how much you are willing to spend, contact your supplier. They will conduct a full home energy assessment and work with you to find a customised home energy solution. Your monthly electricity bill is a useful tool in assessing your energy consumption, and in some instances a logger is installed over a certain period to determine your exact usage. This helps the installer to meet your expectations, while living up to their professional service standards.

  1. Monitor your system.

Once your home energy solution has been installed, ask your installer to help you monitor the system to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. Many installers offer advanced solutions that can be used to monitor and control your system in real time. You will, for example, be able to see when the system is overloaded and about to trip, when the storage batteries are low or your solar PV system is not generating enough energy. This keeps you and your installer informed about the state of your system so that you can make the necessary adjustments to enhance its efficiency.

  1. Install an integrated heat pump and water storage tank as a backup.

Image 3: An integrated heat pump and water storage tank will help ensure you always have access to warm water and also save you money.

There are times when your home energy system may be unable to generate enough energy to fulfil your household’s needs. One such scenario is when there are long periods of cloudy days and your solar PV system is unable to generate enough energy for your household’s needs. It is quite costly to install enough batteries to meet your energy requirements during an unforeseen time of insufficient energy generation.

So to ensure your energy requirements are met, Energy Partners Home Solutions often suggests installing an integrated heat pump and water storage tank. Not only will this ensure that you will be able to take a warm shower even during a power outage or when you are not generating enough energy, but it will also help you save money: Water heating accounts for almost half of a household’s electricity consumption. Installing a heat pump and storage tank can cut this by 70%.

Speak to Energy Partners Home Solutions.

If you are ready to become less dependent on the grid, reduce your electricity bill by up to 70% and live greener, speak to the energy experts at Energy Partners Home Solutions. Their home energy solutions are modular, which means they can be customised to suit your unique energy needs and budget. The Energy Partners Home Solutions team will be there with you every step of the way: From installing the right solution, to monitoring and optimising your system.

Call Energy Partners Home Solutions on 0861 000 606 for a free, non-obligatory home energy assessment or visit

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 or contact 0861 000 606.


Engineering News: Robben Island’s renewables makeover part of bigger going-green strategy

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

To improve the sustainability of tourism in South Africa, the Department of Tourism has included renewable-energy technology in the retrofitting of key tourist attractions and State-owned destinations in the pilot phase of a Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP), which will be carried out over the next three years.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom announced during his Budget speech in March that Robben Island, one of the world’s top tourist attractions, would soon generate its power from renewable-energy sources.

The island will be a pilot site for the Department of Tourism’s roll-out of renewable energy retrofitment to botanical gardens, South African National Parks (SANParks) facilities and World Heritage Sites in the country, he said, adding that the installation of renewable-energy sources such as solar power on the island would take place during the current financial year.


Click HERE to read the full article on Engineering News.

EWN: Eskom argues for ‘larger than usual’ tariff increase

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Eskom is arguing a case for a larger than usual tariff increase, saying it’s trying to balance the books in the wake of three heavy spending years.

The parastatal has to ask the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for permission to increase electricity tariffs.

Last year, it wanted to put up the price by 20% but Nersa sent it packing with a 5,2% increase.

Eskom argues it’s pumped more than R66 billion into infrastructure and it needs to start recouping that money.

The parastatal has presented its case for a tariff increase to Nersa, explaining its latest application is to try and make back the money that has been spent to keep the lights on over the past three financial years.

The state-owned enterprise (SOE) is also trying to allay fears of a major price shock with some anticipating a 30% tariff increase.


Click HERE to read the full article on