How to move off-grid

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Recently there has been a lot of attention in the media regarding “moving off-grid”. This conversation in South Africa specifically, has mainly been stirred up due to the steep increases in electrical energy cost over the last 15 years, which is partly due to the challenges that Eskom been facing. Other contributing factors are the grid instability – which we all refer to as load-shedding, and to some degree environmental concerns.

Let’s take you on the journey towards energy independence and show you how you can move off-grid. Journey with us on the roads towards being “off-grid”. On this journey we will take pitstops and visit some principle questions, such as, what does it actually mean to being totally “off grid” in terms of energy, can it be done in steps and why start this journey.

There are different ways to approach moving “off-grid”, off course one can start with the full-Monty and do-it once off – for some clients (especially our clients building new houses) this might be the best approach, but for sure not the only approach. Working with many clients over the years, we believe the correct approach is to always first discover current and future energy needs and goals for each energy user specifically. There are many roads that can lead to the final destination though.

Being “totally off-grid” in terms of energy means that there is no energy generation to the facility coming from an external source – which is the grid. All energy consumed in the local energy network is therefore produced locally. The production of energy in a “total energy “off-grid” house normally is a combination of solar, wind and a generator (there are different types). Batteries are needed to store excessive energy for night usage or at times where no wind of solar is available.

Our clients differ significantly on WHY to invest in sustainable energy solutions. We believe that it is not necessarily the final goal of all our clients to be 100% “off-the-grid”, clients differ and the level of grid independence (the percentage energy generation still coming from the grid) will differ.

Goals differ based on each client’s unique needs at specific times, there are different solutions that cater for:

 

  1. Going totally off the grid;
  2. being less dependent on the grid – therefore investing in sustainable energy (no storage);
  3. save on electrical cost but also be ready for load-shedding (but not off-grid, grid still supplies some of the energy required);

We do believe that one should have a scalable solution towards total grid independence, as goals are dynamic in this journey and flexibility is key. We also believe that there are

 

The first question that needs to be asked is WHY, that is the first key question that should be the starting point for this journey.

Let’s make some pitstops now:

  1. Discover

Through a need’s analysis process, current and future energy needs and goals are determined. It is important to understand the short them and long-term goals of our client and based on that, model and design solutions.

We use this platform to understand each client’s unique infrastructure, goals and financial position. Energy is quite a complicated matter; this process was designed to assist us to model and design with the aim of putting together the best solution for each energy user.

 

  1. Enlighten

After discovery, we share our knowledge and experience with clients – relating to their infrastructure. We discuss the following principles:

  1. Energy management (automation & manual);
  2. Energy efficiency
  3. Energy consumption
  4. Energy production
  5. Energy storage

 

  1. Model

We need to understand the energy usage of properties, we refer to this as an energy profile model.

First, we model the consumption, important here is that this model does not just consider how much power is used but how much power is used at different times during a 24-hour cycle, as this has an impact on the design of the system. Also, the model is created over a year to cater for different seasons.

Once the consumption model has been created, we then plug this into a simulation model where we integrate the production of energy from multiple sources, during this process we also introduce the variables of efficiency and management.

 

  1. Design

Combining management, efficiency, production (through solar, wind and generators), storage and smart software (to optimise) we design a solution specifically for each energy user. All designs are scalable, meaning you can start small and expand the system over time.

 

We keep our client financial position and goals in mind; therefore, we do consider the initial capital outlay versus the benefits. Our design models cater for these dynamic variables, therefor we can have a few designs of each client to be reviewed.

  1. Costing

We cost the solutions, for scalable solutions we use escalation models to cost the different steps toward the final future goals.

 

  1. Review

Once we have now discovered, enlighten, model, design and costed we spend time with our client to review the possible solutions in line with short them and long-term goals. During this process we take careful consideration of financial implications, capital lay-out versus saving etc.

After the review process – if needed, we re-visit the model, design and costing. Once we are satisfied that we have made the necessary changes, we then have another session with our client, therefore the aim is to get our solution inline with clients needs and goals within the financial plan. Contact us for more details.

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