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solar pv Archives - EP Home Solutions

Energy efficiency home upgrades to save you money

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Property24 recently asked Energy Partners Home Solutions’ Head of Marketing and Sales, Cala van der Westhuizen, a few tips on energy efficiency home upgrades.

Energy-efficiency has become a global trend and designers are constantly presenting homeowners with visions of what high-tech, energy-efficient homes should look like.

The good news is that state-of-the-art energy saving solutions are available in South Africa, and in spite of perceptions, creating ultra-modern living spaces is affordable.

Whether designing and building a new house, upgrading a regular home or renovating a ‘fixer upper’, homeowners today have an incredible opportunity to implement great energy saving solutions.

Cala van der Westhuizen, Head of Marketing and Sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions, shares tips…

New water heating solutions 

A geyser is responsible for over half of a home’s energy bill and the modern alternative is to install a heat pump, which uses about a third of the total energy.

In conjunction with a highly insulated hot water storage system, this solution cuts the home’s electricity costs by an estimated 50%.

A complete heating solution costs around R35 000 for the average home. 

 

Rethinking lighting

Highly efficient LED lighting typically requires a tenth of the energy and has a longer lifespan than regular bulbs.

Constructing a new home or making major renovations is also an opportunity to allow more natural light into the building.

The home’s orientation, larger windows, glass doors and skylights all reduce the need for unnecessarily turning lights on throughout the day.  

 

Insulate everything

Insulation is a cost-efficient measure with the biggest impact on reducing energy consumption.

Double-brick walls with insulation in between, and well-insulated ceilings and floors are vital. Double glazing also reduces heat loss through large glass surfaces like windows and sliding doors.  

Door and window frames are often overlooked sources of heat loss, and wooden frames are the most beneficial in terms of reducing heat transfer between the inside and outside of the home.

 

Heating and cooling the home

If you’re looking for a cheap way to heat up your living spaces, modern fireplaces are a great option.

Conventional underfloor heating that uses closed circuit water-based systems and heat pumps is also one of the most efficient ways to heat a well-insulated home. 

For cooling, a new inverter air-conditioner never uses more energy than required to maintain the desired temperature. 

 

Home energy models through software 

Software modelling is commonplace in the commercial sector, and recently it has become more accessible to homeowners. It takes all the energy ins and outs into account, from heat radiating through windows and ceilings to the energy required for air-conditioning and heating water.

One case study in Hermanus saw Greenplan Consultants creating a virtual model of the home incorporating every possible variable, from the benefits of installing louvres, to the amount of heat removed by natural ventilation.

In the end, the consultant was able to increase the cooling efficiency of the home’s natural ventilation by 10%, and reduce the amount of energy needed for heating by a further 10%.

 

Solar panels and architectural considerations 

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system with a basic grid tied inverter that provides around 30% of an average home’s energy costs upward of R80 000. We often advise architects and developers on the easiest way to ensure that the roof is compliant, even if a system will not be installed from the start.

For a home to be able to accommodate the best possible solar array, the roof should be able to bear an additional load of at least 15kg per square metre.

Choosing the correct service provider is important too. There are many solar companies that do not have the experience, capabilities or intent to deliver a long-term and sustainable partnership to clients.

 

Batteries and home automation 

Finally, adding a hybrid inverter and battery provides the most energy savings. The inverter enables you to integrate power from the solar PV panels, the grid and batteries.


 

Read the article on Property24 by clicking here.

Solar delivers cheapest electricity ‘ever, anywhere, by any technology’

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Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports.

In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,” BNEF Chair Michael Liebreich said on Twitter after this contract was announced.

Carlos Finat, head of the Chilean Renewable Energies Association (ACERA) told Bloomberg that the auction is “a strong warning sign that the energy business continues on the transition path to renewable power and that companies should adapt quickly to this transition process.” Indeed, in the same auction, the price of coal power was nearly twice as high!

Grid-connected solar power on Chile has quadrupled since 2013. Total installed capacity exceeded 1,000 megawatts this year — the most by far in South America. Another 2,000 megawatts is under construction, and there are over 11,000 megawatts that are “RCA Approved” (i.e. have environmental permits).

PV in Chile

Chile is aided by the fact that its Atacama desert is “the region with the highest solar radiation on the planet,” according to the Inter-American Development Bank. So much solar is being built in the high-altitude desert that Northern Chile can’t use it all, and the government is rushing to build new transmission lines.

Chile is part of a global trend where solar energy has doubled seven times since 2000. In the U.S. alone, it has grown 100-fold in the past decade thanks to a sharp drop in prices that has brought the cost of solar (with subsidies) to under four cents a kilowatt hour in many places, as I detailed last month.

The future for solar could not be sunnier.

Read the original article by clicking here.

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. 


 

Read more about this in the press:

Smart Energy For Your Home

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Pioneering EPHS work published in Simply Green

Simply Green digimag recently published an article in their digital magazine about Energy Partners Home Solutions. The article provides a comprehensive and fully transparent overview of EPHS’s purpose and benefits – especially with the eye on long-term effectiveness and sustainability.

One of the fundamental benefits central to EPHS’s value offering is the level of scalability and customisation that is available to customers. This point is conveyed in the article, particularised by supporting detail to elucidate its relevance:

“Their systems are fully modular so you can start small and build up to complete independence over time.”

Our thinking, values and philosophy is pushing EPHS to fast becoming one of the leading residential and small commercial energy solutions companies in the greater Western Cape, with recent installations now stretching all the way to Gauteng. And as far as we’re concerned, this is just the start. While we’re working to make the future part of today every day, we continue to remain excited about what the future will bring for South Africa – and beyond.

In the United States, renewable energy is swiftly embracing the smart grid. Smart energy delivers approximately 55% of all new capacity added worldwide, the most ever, and total investment was nearly twice the amount for generators powered by fossil fuels. Things are changing. It’s a simple matter of time and gravity.

But if it’s an incentive for change we require, here’s an interesting data-fuelled projection. Renewable Energy World stated that, in order to meet the skyrocketing demand for electricity, Africa might have to triple our energy output by 2030. Clean energy conversions on home and business level is therefore not simply a good thing to do. It is the smart thing to do.

“We would all like to use less electricity, be less dependent on the grid and reduce our environmental impact. Energy Partners Home Solutions is helping homeowners and small business owners achieve this by combining energy efficiency and Solar PV to optimise their home energy.”

Read the full article.

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

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

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

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

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!

CNBC Africa Power Lunch

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Allan Matthews, our managing director, spoke to CNBC Africa in April 2016.

Solar PV installations should be fully considered by homeowners, to receive the energy returns expected. Partnering solar panels with inverters to create usable energy, as well as batteries to store excess, is the best solution. They also discuss the possibility of feeding back excess energy into the grid. Energy Partners Home Solutions offer a full home energy analysis, with an holistic approach. Get in touch to discuss alternatives for your home.