portable FB

Combating both COVID-19 & Eskom Load-shedding through Portable Back-up Power Units

In between the team’s busy projects schedule in January 2021, the Zero Point Energy engineering team made some time for R&D to combat the dual crisis of COVID-19 and Eskom load-shedding, and the disastrous impact both have on home-based patients dependent on oxygen concentrator devices that need to run 24-7.

ZPE portable power supply

The ZPE portable power supply under demonstration

Helping to Save COVID-19 Lives through our Backup Power Experience

In trying to address the multiple concerns with current backup-up power solutions in the market that were raised by home-based medical practitioners & community care-givers, the team spent time refining a design to come up with a solution that was both practical and innovative.

All that is needed is to plug the unit into a normal wall plug, then plug the medical device into the socket outlet on the front door of the unit, and flick the switch for uninterrupted power even during load shedding!

Product Features & Advantages:

The resulting outcome of tinkering on our workbench was the portable backup power supply shown below. Some of its nifty features include:

1. Sufficient battery storage & inverter capacity for a 5L home oxygen concentrator to work at full capacity for up to 5 hours of load shedding, and factoring in any start-up surges and switching

2. Total system weight of under 25kg making it easily portable and transportable (compared to existing battery trolleys in the market weighing 63kg for equivalent power & storage capacity!)

3. No noise, no fuel emissions and no cumbersome start-up, storage and safety concerns as associated with diesel, petrol and gas generators

4. Designed & assembled to be easily maneuvered in & out of cars, and even up & down stairs using a small hand-truck

5. Use of modern lithium-ion battery technology and a high-spec’d battery charger, providing up to 5x longer lifespan (up to 10 years) and 2x faster charging to get from 5% back up to 100% charge (2 hours), compared to lead-acid batteries that would require 4 hours which is a concern if load shedding happens multiple times in a day

6. Integrated the system with a Raspberry Pi processor and customised software so that the system can be remotely monitored and configured via the Victron online portal to provide warning notifications to care-givers on a mobile device e.g. when battery level reaches a minimum threshold or when load shedding starts or stops

ZPE portable power supplyRemote monitoring screen accessible via mobile app or desktop

7. Use of top tier equipment & components such as Victron inverter/charger, Blue Nova lithium-ion battery, Hager electrical protection components and designed & installed in a manner that is safe, electrically compliant and plug & play for anyone to useZPE portable power supply

Top tier components went into assembly of the unit

8. Other functional benefits are the ability to charge cellphone/tablet devices from the system at the same time as medical devices are in use. The enclosure is also lockable and sturdy enough to be used as a temporary side table. There’s no noise nor emissions that would need to be a concern, so the unit can be located directly in the same room as patients requiring the medical device

Planned Roll-out

We intend to roll-out a few of these units to care-givers in first quarter of 2021 who constantly need to transport oxygen concentrators between different COVID-19 patient locations.

They now have a reliable, convenient and easy to transport back-up power supply that can give them peace of mind that their critical patients will always have constant power for their life-saving medical devices even during Eskom load shedding.

Contact Us

Feel free to contact us to see to learn more or request quotes:

Whatsapp: +27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Established in 2015, Zero Point Energy (Pt) Ltd is a proudly South African 100% black-owned & 41% female-owned sustainable energy company providing bespoke design, consulting engineering, turn-key Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) solutions as well as Operational & Maintenance (O&M) services in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, off-grid and backup power in the Southern African commercial, industrial, residential, agricultural and public sectors.

Learn more about the company’s team here

covid1

How can we save energy, jobs and costs in Southern Africa post COVID-19?

How can we save energy, jobs and costs in Southern Africa post COVID-19?

The current COVID-19 global pandemic will have far-reaching effects on economies and livelihoods all over the world for a long time to come. As South Africa gradually enters a post-lockdown period, bold and drastically different solutions will be needed to reboot the economy. The power supply challenges of yesterday are not yet behind us, and a shift is required in how we approach power generation and renewable energy. Various sustainability projects can be implemented at a national, local, commercial, and residential level to ease some of the current burdens on resources as we move into a post-COVID-19 South Africa.

covid-19 africa

Source: Center for Global Development

Impact of the Pandemic

The novel coronavirus has affected the entire nation, with thousands already infected by the disease. The government, aided by the health sector, is doing all that it can to contain the virus. Measures such as a national lockdown and social distancing, while necessary, make it anything but business as usual.

Looking at the economic impact of the crisis, millions have been affected as their livelihoods were forced to a grinding halt. Many people are now working from home, but for many others, this is not an option. Job layoffs and a rising unemployment rate both during and after the lockdown are expected, with an estimated 1.5 million South African jobs at risk.

For many companies and industries, the crisis has led to a slow-down in output, financial constraints, and business continuity challenges. On the power generation front, a decrease in electricity demand of 7 500MW- 9 000MW during the lockdown period, means that Eskom has been able to provide uninterrupted power. The national power utility has also indicated they are using the opportunity to conduct important maintenance work to its infrastructure. That said, once industries fully resume their operations, the challenge of insufficient power production will once again impact the nation—a nation trying to find its feet after this unprecedented health and economic crisis.

Solutions from Sustainability Projects

Implementing small and large scale sustainability projects could be one way to boost economic recovery and build resilience. These projects span across solar power generation, water efficiency, and other renewable energy deployments.

The International Renewable Energy Agency believes that investments in renewable energy could not only address the climate change dilemma but yield significant economic benefits that could also play a part in the transition to a post-COVID-19 economy.

According to the agency’s director, Francesco La Camera:

By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind.”

In the next sections, some of the specific solutions we can expect from sustainability initiatives are explored in further depth.

Local Employment Creation

Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and national lockdown. There’s no telling how many jobs will be resumed as things slowly move back to normal. The disease outbreak has also accelerated the use of technology and automation as a further unintended consequence. This, too, could lead to permanent job losses.

The renewable energy industry in South Africa is still relatively new. There is a tremendous opportunity for growth and investment. The country has a very high solar power capacity. The Department of Energy and Renewable Energy  Independent Power Producers (REIPPs) are already in the process of rolling out 27 renewable energy independent power producer projects.  These include solar farms as well as wind farms. Therefore, sustainability projects open many new job opportunities for people who have lost their livelihoods to transition into and acquire the required skills and training.

solar pv utility scale africa

Source: Environmental News South Africa

Localised Energy Production

Once power demand returns to normal levels, the national grid will once again be under a lot of pressure. Localised power generation allows businesses and residences to have some degree of self-reliance. Solar PV solutions are perfectly suited to power daytime consumption of businesses, and even powering evening loads with the aid of battery power storage. This independence from the main power supplier allows businesses and individuals to carry on their operations even in the middle of power shortages, lockdowns, and other unforeseen challenges.

There is another crucial benefit to localized power generation. As this industry grows and import bottlenecks and foreign exchange pressures weigh in,  there will be greater emphasis placed on local equipment manufacturing. This will reduce our reliance on imports, boost local industry, and create local jobs. All these factors will give the economy some much-needed stimulation. For this long-term vision to be a reality, a combined effort is required from all sectors, including research and development partners, technology hubs, and government, whose support will be key.

Cost Saving and Financial Benefits

Solar PV, energy efficiency, and other related alternate energy projects have proven high returns on investment. More than ever, in the current COVID-19 economic climate, investing in solar PV is sure to beat any current money market or equities investments in the short to medium-term. These investments pay for themselves in a few years, and the electricity generated is cheaper and cleaner. There are also additional savings for businesses and residences because of the minimal operational expenses, which free up much-needed cash for other running costs, both now and in the long-term.

Environmental Benefits

nature sustainability

Source: Biz Community

Sustainability is all about balancing resources with current needs in a manner that does not negatively impact future generations. This happens on an environmental level, but also has economic and social ramifications.

Solar power is a valuable renewable source of energy, which we are yet to maximize fully. The alternatives, such as coal and oil, release harmful emissions into the environment. Besides solar, other renewable sources of energy are wind and water.

While global industrial production has declined in many sectors in the last few months, pollution and industrial emissions are likely to have also gone down. This has provided an opportunity to reflect on the impact human beings have on the earth and how we can change our ways, moving forward.

Another aspect of sustainability is managing current resources. Water efficiency measures can stop huge water losses at all levels. All these sustainability projects aim to find alternatives solutions and strategies to minimize man’s impact on the environment.

Conclusion

While it won’t be an easy road to navigate a post-COVID-19 South Africa, the government, private sector, and individuals can look to sustainability projects to provide some real, long-lasting solutions. Now is the time to invest in infrastructure and systems that can withstand power supply fluctuations, boost the local economy, create jobs, all while reducing the adverse effects on the environment.

 

Contact Us

Feel free to contact us to see how best we can offer our sustainability engineering expertise to help you:

+27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here