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SME Archives - EP Home Solutions

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.

7 ways SMEs can beat the rising cost of electricity

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments
Electricity is a basic, but vital operational resource for any organisation. Unfortunately, it is an increasingly costly commodity that is putting a lot of financial strain on businesses, especially SMEs. Over the next eight years, South Africa is likely to experience above-inflation hikes in electricity tariffs of as much as 6% to 8%. This could even reach as high as 13%, if government introduces their planned carbon tax.

 

Electricity Prices

Figure 1: The graph shows the growing average cost of electricity (cents p/kWh) from 2006 until 2017/2018. Source: Numsa

If you are an SME owner you are most likely experiencing the impact of growing electricity prices on your profit margins and operating costs. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Because you run a smaller operation, it is much easier to manage your energy spend. Here are seven tips to help you beat the rising cost of electricity:

 

1.  Energy-efficient lighting

 

Lightbulb

Replacing your business’ regular light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs is a simple, cost-effective way to minimise your electricity usage.

 

A business that keeps regular office hours operates for at least 40 hours a week. Considering that most offices keep their lights on during that time, and even after hours, it is no wonder that lighting accounts for most of the electricity used in many businesses.

 

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to minimise your business’ electricity usage, is replacing regular light bulbs with energy-efficient LED units. They use 90% less electricity than standard light bulbs and because they have a longer lifespan, your business’ lighting will require less frequent maintenance. But it is important to note that merely replacing the light bulbs will not guarantee the maximum savings due to the transformers used in the older fittings.

 

Using natural light to your advantage is another simple way to save on electricity: Open the blinds more often to lighten the workplace, consider installing a skylight or paint the office walls in lighter tones that automatically brighten indoor spaces.

 

2.  Switch off and unplug

 

Remind your employees to switch off all the lights and electrical equipment at the end of the day. Place small posters or stickers next to light switches to remind staff about this energy-saving rule, and even introduce a small fine for those who forget: For example, if the last person to leave the office neglects to switch off the air conditioner, he or she must buy a round of coffees for everyone in the office.

 

Many people do not realise that electronics still use power even when they are turned off. You might be surprised to hear that equipment that is still plugged into the wall socket can “leak” up to 0.05 kWh, which is the equivalent of about R0.05 to R0.10 worth of electricity every hour. While it does not seem like a lot, it will add up, especially if you have multiple appliances plugged in at the same time. To put this into perspective: 10 PCs plugged in overnight will “leak” around R10’s worth of electricity per week and as much as R50 during weekends, which add up to about R400 at the end of the month. It is therefore a good idea to unplug everything in your office before you leave for the day, or at least at the start of a weekend or holiday.

 

3.  Introduce work-from-home days

 

Work from home

Allowing your staff to work from home on certain days will save your business electricity.

Give your business an energy break and your employees a reason to smile by allowing staff to work from home on certain days. Thanks to technology such as Skype, email and safe network connections, this will not disrupt your business, but rather amount to significant electricity savings in the long run.

 

4.  Take charge of temperature control

 

A business’ productivity relies on the comfort and happiness of its employees, which is why air conditioners have become a workplace essential in our exceptionally warm summers. They are, however, very heavy electricity users. The cooler the setting, the more electricity they use. That is why it is a good idea to switch on the air conditioner early in the day, on a milder setting that gradually cools down the office as the day gets warmer. This is much more efficient than trying to quickly cool down an area during the hottest time of the day by blasting the air conditioner at its maximum setting.

 

If you are located on the ground floor, consider planting deciduous trees outside your windows, which will provide shade during summer. And, to avoid the excessive use of heaters or the air conditioner on a warm setting during winter, keep the heat inside by ensuring your office’s doors and windows seal properly.

 

5.  Rethink the office kitchen

 

The office kitchen is a great place for saving electricity. Because an SME has fewer staff members, a smaller fridge that uses less electricity might be sufficient, while a hot water urn is a good energy-efficient alternative to a regular kettle. Also, replace the microwave and toaster with newer, more energy-efficient models that might be more expensive to purchase, but will help your business save money on electricity over time.

 

6.  Get your staff on board

 

Energy Smart

Encourage your employees to become energy conscious.

 

7.  Go solar

 

Utilising the sun’s energy to power your business will help you significantly reduce its monthly electricity bill. According to Cala van der Westhuizen from Energy Partners: “Depending on the nature of the business, one of our customised solar solutions could help cut an SME’s electricity bill by as much as 30%.”

 

On top of that, SARS also offers certain tax concession for businesses that go solar. A business can deduct the 14% VAT portion off the cost of the solar system, as well as deduct the full cost of the installation of a solar energy solution from their business income tax in the first year. This benefit effectively means that your system is discounted at another 28% through the saving in tax.

 

While many SME owners might be scared off by the initial cost of installing solar, it is true that a state-of-the-art system will pay for itself with what it saves on electricity over time. “The repayment term of a solar PV system for a commercial installation is close to around four years, depending on certain factors like self-consumption and the tariff structure. With solar panels that have a 25-year production warranty, it’s very much like buying 25 years’ prepaid electricity at five years’ cost,” says Van der Westhuizen.

 

Energy Partners Home Solutions also offer various financing options for SMEs that do not have the capex available to purchase the system outright. According to Van der Westhuizen: “As a registered financial services provider, many of our clients purchase a system that is financed by us and which they can easily pay off out of the operational budgets of their businesses. In certain cases, we can even offer a Performance Lease Agreement, which allows for the installation of the system at a fraction of the cost.”

Own an SME? Tax perks of going solar

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

In South Africa, we realise the importance of nurturing SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises): They play a vital role in developing our growing economy, creating much-needed jobs and driving innovation. At the same time, as the proverbial small fish in the big pond, they face many challenges such as securing the funding they need, complying with all of the country’s legislative requirements and keeping head above water in competitive industries. It’s clear that SMEs need all the help they can get, especially when it comes to relieving some of the financial strains and stresses of running a business.

Indeed, many SME owners toss and turn over money matters at night. Especially tax is a pebble in the shoe for many businesses, big and small. Not only is it tricky to navigate the world of tax (especially if you’re new to business), but it’s never easy to part with one’s hard-earned money.

 

Tax incentive for installing solar PV

 

That’s why it’s great news for SMEs that SARS offers business owners certain tax concessions for utilising renewable energy – specifically a special tax incentive for installing solar PV (photovoltaic) energy solutions.

Cala van der Westhuizen from Energy Partners, a renewable energy solutions supplier, explains that solar energy systems such as theirs hold tax perks for businesses from the get-go. “Financially it makes good sense for businesses to install a solar PV system as they can deduct the VAT portion which is already 14% of the total cost if they are VAT-registered,” he says.

 

Deduct cost of installation

 

The second big tax advantage, is that business owners can deduct the full cost of the installation of a solar energy solution from their business income tax in the first year, according to the terms of Section 12B of the Income Tax Act. This 100% accelerated capital allowance applies to business solar PV solutions that produce less than 1 megawatt of power.

 

Pay less carbon tax

 

Government’s purpose with this allowance is to encourage the use of renewable energy in the business sector by for instance supporting smaller solar PV energy projects that have a low environmental impact and use little water. Which brings us to another tax benefit of installing solar PV: This year, government is introducing a carbon tax for businesses that emit excessive amounts of greenhouse gasses through especially transportation vehicles and electricity generation. As a low-carbon source of energy, solar power can help businesses to become greener and therefore avoid carbon tax.

 

Savings on electricity bill

 

The financial benefits of installing an efficient business solar solution go beyond tax concessions. With a state-of-the-art, efficient system from Energy Partners, SMEs can significantly cut their monthly electricity bills. An Energy Partners SME solar solution can pay for itself with what the business saves on electricity. “The repayment term of a solar PV system for a commercial installation is close to around 4 years, depending on certain factors like self-consumption and the tariff structure. With solar panels that have a 25-year production warranty, it’s very much like buying 25 years’ prepaid electricity at 5 years’ cost,” Van der Westhuizen says.

He adds: “Energy Partners Home Solutions also offer various financing options for SMEs that don’t have the capex available to purchase the system outright. As a registered financial services provider, many of our clients purchase a system that is financed by us and which they can easily pay off out of the operational budgets of their businesses. In certain cases, we can even offer a Performance Lease Agreement, which allows for the installation of the system at a fraction of the cost.”

It’s clear that, if you’re an SME owner, you can’t afford not to consider a renewable energy solution that looks after the environment and your all-important cash flow. If you’re interested in putting the financial benefits of a solar PV solution to work in your business, contact Energy Partners for a free, no-obligation energy assessment. 


 

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Tshwane announce Embedded Power Generation policy

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The City of Tshwane announced its flagship policy on Embedded Power Generation (EPG), which is aimed to promote small-scale solar power generation by residents.

Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, executive mayor Solly Msimanga said this is an opportunity for residents to sell their excess power to the city.

EPG is essentially allowing small power generation by residents or small businesses for their own use.

“Residents can generate solar power from a roof-top panel during the day, and sell their excess to the city. At night, when the resident cannot generate solar power, they can purchase from the city,” said Msimanga.

“This is a major step in the renewable power policy and our first step in a real green power development.”

Echoing the mayor’s sentiments, member of the mayoral committee for infrastructure Darryn Moss said the spare electricity generated can be used to make up during instances where the city has a shortfall.

“This innovation mitigates both the economic impact and inconvenience of load-shedding and saves on the cost of buying electricity at peak rates,” Moss said.

Globally, feed-in tariffs have had the biggest impact on the boom in renewable energy.

“Figures provided by the trustworthy Power Quality and Renewable Services indicate that over the course of 2016, it is estimated that 120Mw of actual module sales took place.

“Roughly 118Mw of the total installed capacity has been audited and, due to the volume of data, is assumed to be representative of the growth of PV installations in South Africa over a period of time.

“Strategic decisions have been taken to enhance demand side management through energy-efficiency initiatives, improved metering of electricity and reduced losses from the transmission and distribution of electricity and fuels,” Msimanga said.

The mayor said the production of solar energy within the city is “up there with the best in the country”.

He concluded by saying, together with the EPG, they will ensure the city leads by example by producing energy efficiency plans for households, official buildings and public spaces.

Click here to read the original article from The Citizen.

How To Prepare For Increased Electricity Tariffs

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Cala van der Westhuizen spoke with EE Publishers in March 2017. He discussed looming increased electricity tariffs for home, and particularly business owners. South Africa is still likely to see above inflation increases in electricity prices over the next few years. It therefore makes it increasingly important to consider alternative sources of energy. Finding the light at the end of the Eskom tunnel, we discussed how to prepare for increase electricity tariffs.

Since 2008 the average tariff increase in South Africa has been around 300%. According to our research, the next eight years will likely see a year-on-year tariff increase of at least 6% to 8%.

In light of the upcoming 2017 Budget Speech, we are also waiting to find out if the government will introduce a new carbon tax. If this is the case, tariff increases could be as high as 13%.

 

There are, however, opportunities for smaller companies to reduce the impact of power costs and supply on their business. SMEs should take advantage of the incentives provided for the installation of renewable energy solutions.

SMEs need to keep in mind that they can claim a percentage of the cost of solar, and other renewable energy solutions, back from the South African Revenue Service.

 

Some banks also offer financing to their business banking clients for renewable energy solutions.

Alternatively, businesses can consider financing options from certain service providers.

 

The Home Solutions division at Energy Partners provides various financing options for renewable energy systems to SMEs with energy requirements below 50 kW. Energy Partners’ Solar Commercial division also provides a number of bespoke energy saving solutions for larger companies.

Additionally, there are pay-as-you-use and leasing service agreements available for qualifying businesses. This eliminates the upfront cost of installing renewable solutions.

 

A full solar solution can reduce the average SME’s electricity consumption by as much as 30%. This figure is of course dependent on the nature of the business. Custom heating, cooling and energy efficiency solutions have resulted up to 30% reductions in electricity use for a number of our clients.

With this in mind, it is important for business owners to do a proper cost-benefit analysis. This will ensure that they are making the correct business decisions. These should include implementing the right energy solutions and using the optimal financing vehicle to reduce their annual energy spend.

Get in touch for a free energy analysis, or to discuss any questions you might have with our energy experts.

Read the original article here.