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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.

China builds world’s biggest solar farm

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High on the Tibetan plateau, a giant poster of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, guards the entrance to one of the greatest monuments to Beijing’s quest to become a clean energy colossus. To Xi’s right, on the road leading to what is reputedly the biggest solar farm on earth, a billboard greets visitors with the slogan: “Promote green development! Develop clean energy!”

Behind him, a sea of nearly 4m deep blue panels flows towards a spectacular horizon of snow-capped mountains – mile after mile of silicon cells tilting skywards from what was once a barren, wind-swept cattle ranch.

“It’s big! Yeah! Big!” Gu Bin, one of the engineers responsible for building the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in the western province of Qinghai, enthused with a heavy dose of understatement during a rare tour of the mega-project.

The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower.

Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter.

“The development of clean energy is very important if we are to keep the promises made in the Paris agreement,” Xie Xiaoping, the chairman of Huanghe Hydropower Development, the state-run company behind the park, said during an interview at its headquarters in Xining, the provincial capital.

Click here to read the full article from The Gardian.

4 Reasons To Go Solar

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

When it comes to affordable renewable energy (or energy in general), solar certainly stands out as one of the best solutions. It’s clean, efficient and above all – infinite. Here in South Africa, it makes sense to switch to solar quite simply because we have plenty of sun to go around. Most areas in the country average over 2 500 hours of sunshine per year, which is among the highest in the world. Here are four reasons to go solar:

1. Save money from day one

Going solar is as good for your pocket as it is for the planet. With a proper home solar solution, you could save up to 70% on your monthly electricity bill. This means you can save between R50 to R70 a day in peak summer. That’s about R2 000 a month, or R24 000 a year. (This is dependent on the size of your electricity bill and how much roof space you have available).

What solar saves you on your electricity bill, will add up and ultimately cover the cost of the installation. In fact, a carefully planned and designed home solar energy solution could pay for itself within five years.

2. Eskom is not future proof

During loadshedding we all experienced Eskom’s lack of planning, which became even more evident in 2016 when it emerged that their Ingula pumped storage scheme came in well over budget. Recently, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa granted Eskom a 9.4% tariff increase for the 2016/17 financial year. This is way above inflation, which sat between 4% and 7% in 2016. It’s just another example of Eskom’s failure to think ahead.

Their lack of planning, together with their spiraling debt (which will ultimately reflect on consumers’ pockets) do little to restore faith in the unpopular utility. So it seems that, when it comes to reliable sources of energy, it would be wise to hedge your bets and not bank it all on Eskom. By going solar you can ensure you have an efficient energy solution when the grid lets you down.

3. It’s good for the environment

Many people consider going off the grid – meaning, break their ties with Eskom – because they’re concerned about the detrimental effects of coal-fired power stations on the environment. We all have a responsibility to preserve our ecosystems and precious natural resources. The future of our planet depends on it! Solar power has zero impact on the environment and is therefore a great option for the environmentally conscious.

Unfortunately, going off the grid is not really the most practical and financially viable solution. For example, although solar is becoming more and more affordable, the amount of solar PV panels and storage batteries you would need to completely power your home, will carry a hefty price tag. The smart financial choice is to minimise your carbon footprint instead of trying to erase it. You can stay on the grid and tap into it when you need to.

4. It’s very accessible

Solar is easier to install and much more affordable than you might think. It’s up to you how far you want to go, since a good home energy solution should be highly modular. You can start small and build up to a full home energy solution.

For example, you could start by replacing your traditional downlights with energy-efficient LEDs. Then, you could consider installing a heat pump or a solar geyser. These are great energy-saving alternatives to regular geysers, which account for the bulk of the electricity bill in many households. These are just two small, affordable adjustments that could make a big difference to your electricity spend.

When you’re ready to make a larger investment in powering yourself, you could acquire a more robust solution. This solution will generate and store enough energy to fully power your home for longer periods of time. Want to start saving from day one and pay as little as possible upfront? Lease a solar energy system from Energy Partners Home Solutions. We’ll maintain the system for you, while you enjoy all of the advantages of generating your own power.


Want to discuss your different options? Contact us for a free consultation by one of our energy experts and to find out more about our solar financing solutions.

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SABC Digital News – Saving electricity during the festive season

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

On December 21, 2016, Alan Matthews (head of Energy Partners Home Solutions) discussed how holiday makers can save money on their electricity bills by switching off all appliances when leaving the house. Listen in on the interview to learn energy saving ideas which can be implemented throughout the entire year. We hope to make consumers more aware of their day-to-day energy consumption and give you more insight on energy saving.

Do not just change your mind-set over festive seasons but also for the future, as South Africans should brace themselves for a possible inflation increase in electricity tariffs over the next three years.