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off-grid Archives - EP Home Solutions

Offgrid solar power could save electricity costs for African households

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Offgrid solar power could help lower the energy costs for 138-million households in Africa that live on less than $2.50 a day and spend about $10-billion a year on energy-related products, including charcoal, candles and kerosene, South African Solar Photovoltaic Committee chairperson Jo Dean highlighted on Tuesday.

Addressing delegates at the Power & Electricity World Africa 2017 conference, taking place over two days in Johannesburg, she said a “vibrant offgrid solar industry” is poised to take off in Africa.

She pointed to data sourced from the World Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency that there was potential to develop up to 1 100 GW of solar capacity in Africa.

Dean stated that in many African countries, there is a lack of funding, institutional will or technical skill to develop the energy sector.

She noted that South Africa was paving the way for renewables in Africa, with the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) having encouraged other African countries to also take steps in implementing utility scale photovoltaic plants.

Meanwhile, with the uncertainty over the continuum of the REIPPPP, there is potential for new markets and opportunities to be found in South Africa’s commercial and industrial sectors.

“During 2016, 100 MW of small-scale power plants were installed across South Africa, representing a 100% increase on the 2015 amount. One estimate is that as much as 15 GW of capacity could be installed through private power purchase agreements across South Africa within the next five to ten years.”

Dean noted that many large industrial-sized businesses are likely to develop their own projects while “the market for residential-scale installations could continue growing for longer.”

She noted, however, that there are some significant challenges that will have to be addressed. Although the growth rate might be considered impressive, the market remains small.

Meanwhile, Dean noted that, to meet rapidly growing energy demand on the continent, the energy mix would gradually progress towards greater use of offgrid household systems, minigrids and embedded generation.

“It will also lead to the emergence of more flexible, hybrid national energy systems that link grids to offgrid generation,” she said.

Read the original article at Engineering News.

Businesses urged to find alternative energy sources

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

On February 2, 2017, ENCA released a video featuring Alan Matthews, Head of Energy Partners Home Solutions. Matthews discusses why business owners will have to find alternative energy sources.

Click here to view original video on ENCA.

Energy Forecast Online – Going 50% off-grid is better than 100%

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Our marketing manager, Cala van der Westhuizen, spoke to Energy Forecast Online on December 5th, 2016. Van der Westhuizen spoke about alternative energy solutions and how these alternatives are becoming increasingly affordable, however, powering a home completely from renewable sources is still prohibitively expensive. To read the full article, read here.

South Africa is likely to see above inflation increases in electricity prices over the next eight years, with some conservative estimates placing the rise in tariffs at between 6% and 8% year-on-year.

This figure could be as high as 13% if carbon taxes are imposed, and even higher should the 300% increase over the past three years be any indication.

This news is driving some consumers to seriously consider taking their homes completely off-grid.

Van der Westhuizen notes however that smaller scale solutions could provide significantly more benefits than a fully off-grid option.

Achieving the optimal 60% to 70% electricity independence, according to Van der Westhuizen, starts with replacing some of the home’s heaviest electricity users with more efficient solutions.

“When it comes to lighting, LEDs are great replacements for traditional downlights, as they save far more electricity in the long run. Geysers account for as much as half of the electricity bill in many households, with large unnecessary energy wastage. This can be mitigated by a highly efficient heat pump or, in certain cases, solar geysers. Even these simple, affordable solutions can make a big difference,” he says.

Van der Westhuizen states that the next step is to install solar PV panels and a battery or inverter system. He notes that these are extremely effective in generating and storing energy.

“Energy Partners Home Solutions’ integrated home energy systems is a full solution, designed to reduce a home’s monthly electricity spend by around 70%. With a carefully planned and designed solution, the cost of the system’s installation could easily be recovered in five years,” he adds.


 

If you are interested in saving energy, please contact us.

The Real Cost of Being Off the Grid

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Want to be off-grid? Are you sitting down?

Recently, Eskom once again demonstrated their lack of planning when it came to light that their Ingula pumped storage scheme is delayed and already well over budget, with costs spiraling from R8.9bn to R36bn. These costs will inevitably be passed on to consumers. Whenever we’re faced with an unnecessarily high electricity bill, or huddled together by candlelight due to another bout of loadshedding, it’s easy to whisper through clenched teeth: “I want to be off the grid.” While it might sound especially tempting when you’re feeling the strain on your budget or plunged in darkness, it’s not actually the cheapest solution. Here’s why:
It’s true that home solar energy solutions are becoming more and more affordable.

But the massive amount of solar panels and storage batteries you would need to power your home 100% independently, will come at a steep price.

In smaller systems, the panels and inverter account for the majority of the costs, while with off-grid systems, the cost of the batteries becomes the major component.

Here’s the catch: panels and inverters are designed to last 20 or 10 years respectively. Unfortunately lead-based batteries, which are commonly used for off-grid solutions, only have a typically lifespan of three to five years.

That means that you are not getting a permanent solution, but rather one where the bulk of the investment will need to be replaced regularly.
We’ve crunched some numbers and found that costs increase sharply after 70% grid independence, as detailed below:

off-grid_graph

The optimal home solution sits at around 60% -70% energy-independency when you consider the amount of energy created, versus the cost to do so.

There are, however, ways to mitigate the costs involved with being off-grid and going predominantly solar. A back-up generator is a good idea for times when the sun is in hiding (although probably not the best option if living green is your primary motivation for grid independence). Then, quite simply, by using energy sparingly – especially in winter.
Our best advice is to be an educated buyer, as too many suppliers promise returns without considering your home’s unique features and setting.

Transparency is essential to building a renewable energy culture in South Africa. This is why we’re dedicated to bust any solar myths floating around, and tailor our renewable energy solutions to each home we visit*.

*Consultations are free, with our quotes obligation free as well. Possibly the best small print ever? Let’s chat!

The biggest misconception about renewable energy

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We asked our engineers what, in their experience, is consumers’ biggest misconception about renewable energy in the home. Their answer is not at all what you think! Listen to our engineers busting renewable energy myths and shedding light on going off-grid.

Surprised?

Renewable energy does NOT mean being off-grid!

A combination of alternative energy solutions should be utilised when trying to increase return on investment for your home! Speak to the experts about the best, unique solution available to your home – you might get a friendly surprise when you find out how much money you could be saving!

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IOL – Off-grid more viable as Eskom rates set to soar

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Eskom rates have soared in the Western Cape by an average of 300 percent increase since 2008. The next eight years are likely to see between at least 6 percent and 8 percent year-on-year increases in tariffs. If a carbon tax is imposed, this figure could be as high as 13 percent. Cala van der Westhuizen spoke to IOL to discuss these numbers and the reality of going off-grid in South Africa.

IOL cover image

…He said leaving the grid entirely might become increasingly viable. Using renewable sources for at least half of consumption might already make some financial sense, since users would then be buying their electricity at cheaper lower-usage tariffs.

Van der Westhuizen said efficient lighting and water heating could cost from as little as R25 000 and can easily save users in excess of 30 percent on their electricity bill. Other systems that can save households 70 to 80 percent on their bill can cost between R100 000 and R180 000.

He said the price was affected by factors such as the complexity of the installation, the type of roof the client had, and whether the client wanted a photovoltaic and inverter solution, or a full installation including a battery, water heater and LED (light-emitting diode) lighting.

The initial cost of such a system could be justified over time because the period it took to pay for itself in electricity savings, usually between two and six years, became shorter with every electricity tariff increase.

“It is difficult to know what is likely to happen in future, which is why we advocate installing a renewable solution as soon as it is sensible to do so.”

Gregor Kuepper, managing director of SolarWorld Africa, said there were many benefits to investing in alternative energy solutions such as solar PV (photovoltaic) for residential consumers, including reducing electricity bills every month.

Kuepper said a photovoltaic system enabled consumers to fix their electricity costs.

“For example, a kWh of solar energy can be as low as R0.80/kWh for the whole lifetime of the solar system, while homeowners pay already substantially more for a kWh from the grid.

“As we have seen in the past five years, these costs have been increasing constantly and will do so in the future.

“When you are a homeowner you are aware that every investment you make in your home will provide a return. This investment will provide energy savings during the whole lifetime of the solar installation, which results in increasing the value of the property.”

Kuepper said solar PV could be easily installed in residential homes, but homeowners should bear in mind the quality of the product, the track record of the manufacturers and the warranty offered. A good quality product will produce more than 30 years clean and emission free energy and provide cost savings, he said.

To read the full IOL article, read here.