In order to comply with the 27/2012 EC directive, the forthcoming legislation ammendment requires the non SME's to perform one Energy Audit every four years, the first be completed by 5th December 2015. It is therefore to their benefit to explore the outcomes of such an audit and start reducing their energy consumption, increase their efficiency while enjoying the government subsidies for such measures, the energy audit itself being an eligible expenditure for the subsidy.

 
 

Τα μικρά σκούτερ, τα μοτοποδήλατα και γενικά τα μηχανάκια με δίχρονους κινητήρες μπορεί να είναι βολικά για κοντινές μετακινήσεις, όμως ρυπαίνουν πολύ περισσότερο την ατμόσφαιρα των πόλεων, σε σχέση με τα μεγαλύτερα σε μέγεθος και αριθμό αυτοκίνητα, σύμφωνα με μια νέα διεθνή επιστημονική έρευνα.
Η μελέτη δείχνει ότι τα μηχανάκια με το συγκεκριμένο τύπο κινητήρα εκπέμπουν ακόμη και χιλιάδες φορές περισσότερες οργανικές ρυπογόνες ουσίες (αερολύματα), που συμβάλλουν στη δημιουργία «νέφους» πάνω από τα μεγάλα αστικά συγκροτήματα. Σε μερικές πόλεις του πλανήτη (π.χ. στη Μπανγκόνγκ της Ταϊλάνδης), η ρύπανση οφείλεται σε αυτά κατά τα δύο τρίτα σχεδόν (60%). Επίσης, σύμφωνα με την έρευνα, το πρόβλημα είναι αισθητό στη Νότια Ευρώπη και γι' αυτό οι επιστήμονες συστήνουν τη σταδιακή απόσυρση των δίχρονων κινητήρων από την κυκλοφορία σε όλες τις νοτιοευρωπαϊκές πόλεις.
Οι ερευνητές, με επικεφαλής τον Στέφεν Πλατ του ελβετικού Ινστιτούτου Πάουλ Σέρερ, που έκαναν τη σχετική δημοσίευση στο περιοδικό "Nature Communications", πραγματοποίησαν τις σχετικές περιβαλλοντικές μετρήσεις τόσο στο εργαστήριο, όσο και επιτόπου στην Ευρώπη, την Ασία και τις ΗΠΑ, συγκρίνοντας τον βαθμό ρύπανσης από διαφορετικούς τύπους δίτροχων και τετράτροχων οχημάτων, καταλήγοντας στο συμπέρασμα ότι τα δίχρονα μηχανάκια είναι πολύ πιο επιβαρυντικά για την ατμόσφαιρα και άρα για τη δημόσια υγεία.
Μεταξύ των ρυπογόνων ουσιών από τις εξατμίσεις των σκούτερ περιλαμβάνονται οργανικά αερολύματα που αιωρούνται ως μικροσκοπικά σωματίδια, το καρκινογόνο αέριο βενζόλιο (που προστίθεται στη βενζίνη) και μια σειρά από άλλα τοξικά χημικά και αρωματικούς υδρογονάνθρακες. Οι τελευταίοι -μέσω χημικών αντιδράσεων στην ατμόσφαιρα- μπορούν να μετατραπούν και αυτοί σε δευτερογενή οργανικά αερολύματα (σωματίδια).
Σύμφωνα με τους επιστήμονες, ακόμη και το να περιμένει κανείς πίσω από ένα ακίνητο μηχανάκι (π.χ. σε μια διασταύρωση), μπορεί να αποβεί επικίνδυνο για την υγεία του. Όπως είπε ο ερευνητής Μάρκους Κάλμπερερ του Τμήματος Ατμοσφαιρικών Επιστημών του Πανεπιστημίου Κέμπριτζ, «δείξαμε ότι, αντίθετα με τη γενική πεποίθηση, τα σκούτερ μπορεί να συνιστούν την κύρια πηγή ατμοσφαιρικής ρύπανσης στις πόλεις, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της αιθάλης και των οργανικών σωματιδίων».
«Τα αυτοκίνητα και τα φορτηγά, ιδίως τα πετρελαιοκίνητα, θεωρούνται η κύρια πηγή ρύπανσης στο πεδίο των οδικών μεταφορών. Όμως αυτή η αντίληψη χρειάζεται αναθεώρηση, καθώς, όπως δείχνει η μελέτη μας, τα αυξημένα σωματίδια του αέρα προέρχονται κυρίως από την 'ασύμμετρη' ρύπανση των δίχρονων σκούτερ, τα οποία, αν και αποτελούν ένα μικρό μόνο μέρος του στόλου των οχημάτων, συμβάλλουν δυσαανάλογα, προκαλώντας εκπομπές οργανικών και αρωματικών ρύπων έως χιλιάδες φορές μεγαλύτερες σε σχέση με τις άλλες κατηγορίες οχημάτων», πρόσθεσε ο Πλατ. Τα επίπεδα αυτά ρύπανσης είναι πολύ υψηλότερα από τα επιτρεπόμενα στην Ευρώπη και τις ΗΠΑ.
Τα δίχρονα σκούτερ είναι ρυπογόνα επειδή -αντίθετα με τις μεγαλύτερες μοτοσικλέτες που έχουν τετράχρονους κινητήρες- οι δίχρονοι κινητήρες τους είναι πολύ λιγότερο αποδοτικοί στην καύση του καυσίμου και των λαδιών που χρησιμοποιούν (ατελής καύση). Λιγότερο αποτελεσματικά είναι και τα συστήματα εξάτμισης που διαθέτουν, σε σχέση με τους καταλύτες των σύγχρονων αυτοκινήτων. Τα μικροσκοπικά σωματίδια στον αέρα και άλλα μόρια των ρυπογόνων ουσιών είναι γνωστό από παλαιότερες έρευνες ότι αυξάνουν τον κίνδυνο για παθήσεις της καρδιάς, των πνευμόνων κ.α.
Οι ερευνητές εκτιμούν ότι αν μειωθεί ο αριθμός των δίχρονων σκούτερ στους δρόμους, θα βελτιωθεί σημαντικά η ποιότητα του αέρα στις μεγαλουπόλεις, παρόλο που λιγότερο από 1% των συνολικών καυσίμων στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση σήμερα χρησιμοποιείται από τα μηχανάκια. Ήδη κάποιες κινεζικές πόλεις, όπως η Γκουανγκτζού, που έχουν απαγορεύσει την κυκλοφορία τους, εμφάνισαν αξιοσημείωτη μείωσης (πάνω από 80%), ακόμη κι όταν αυξήθηκε η κυκλοφορία των αυτοκινήτων. Πάντως από το 2017 η ΕΕ αναμένεται να εφαρμόσει αυστηρότερα όρια για τις εκπομπές ρύπων από τα δίχρονα μηχανάκια.
Οι ερευνητές τονίζουν ότι τα ηλεκτρικά σκούτερ αποτελούν μια πολύ πιο φιλική στο περιβάλλον λύση, ενώ δεν προκαλούν ούτε ηχορύπανση. Από την άλλη, τα σκούτερ με τετράχρονους κινητήρες, αν και όχι τελείως αβλαβή, θεωρούνται καλύτερα από τα δίχρονα.

 

 

The new regulation concerning the operation of the Energy Service Companies (ESCO’s) is about to come into force, following its elaboration in the Parliament committee for Commerce and Industry last Tuesday 8/4/2014. New developments are expected to occur in the energy saving sector with the enforcement of this regulation. ESCO’s will be eligible for registration at the relevant registry of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism and thus offer their energy services legally, provided they fulfil some prerequisites such as the employment of, or the cooperation agreement with, a registered Energy Auditor.
Adhering to our company’s principle for continuous learning, our founder Mr. Petros Christodoulides attended an informative seminar organised by the Cyprus Organisation For Standardisation on Thursday 10 April 2014 about the Energy Management System CYS EN ISO 50001.
The seminar was conducted by Dr. Mike Brogan who is Ireland’s Representative in ISO/TC 242 Energy Management Committee and co-founder of Enerit*. Dr Brogan has been responsible for Energy and Environmental Management software projects for the public sector organizations and multinational corporations throughout the world.
Dr. Brogan presented the main requirements and the implementation benefits of the CYS EN ISO 50001 standard. Finally, he demonstrated case studies and practical examples of European Companies and Organisations and the achieved benefits as a result of the standard implementation.
The entire presentation of Dr. Brogan is available here.

 

  • (Founded in 2004, Enerit is an ISO standards software provider, with a specific focus on best practice Energy Management. Enerit’s software is used in banks, airports, universities, hospitals, industry, offices and hotel chains).

 

For more information on the ISO 50001 standard, please refer to the ISO Organization publication here.
Shopping for a solar power system and choosing a solar installer can be an exciting exercise, but as with any investment, you will need to be careful who you deal with. Like in any industry, the solar power sector unfortunately has its share of unscrupulous parties who have little interest in the technology, the environmental benefits or even your needs. They are only chasing your money - and they will be ruthless in doing so. Basically, the old saying "if a deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is" applies very much to purchasing a solar power system.
 
As a service to the unsuspected public, we have decided to publish some of the common tricks, traps, cons and scams so you can avoid them in the next Net-metering scheme, opening soon. As Energy Consultants, passionate about solar energy and energy matters in general, we firmly believe this industry needs to adhere to the highest ethical standards - it will ensure protection for the consumer and a more level playing field for the true professionals involved in the solar sector. Like shopping for a new car, be wary of over-exuberance on a sales person's part. In some instances, this may be just genuine passion about the product he/she is promoting, but in others, the sales person will not understand what he/she is selling; instead focusing on hype to get you to sign on the dotted line - and boost his/her commission. If a question hasn't been answered properly or has been deflected, pursue a satisfactory response. In some cases, you may be better off just walking away and finding a company that will answer your questions - the first time. A company may use terms like "deal ending soon", "hurry before stocks run out" , ''below cost price'' - it is just the accepted language of marketing. Ethical sales people, however, will not place you under this type of pressure given the size of the investment, especially if this is an initial enquiry and they have established you are not familiar with solar power concepts or you are confused. Demand time to think things over and research, or at least be clear on the cooling off period if you decide to sign on the dotted line. Better still, if you come under this sort of pressure, see it as an indication of what the company is like and avoid them altogether.
 
Even if a company is genuinely committed to solar power, they are in business to make money. Still, they should offer suggestions as to how you can decrease the cost of acquiring a system, the correct system for you. For example, if you still use inefficient lighting such as incadescent bulbs, an ethical company will point out that spending a few Euros on switching to compact fluorescent or LED's could save you hundred of Euros on extra solar panels needed to power the inefficient lights. On the other hand, an unethical company will see this as a good opportunity for the sale of a larger system (up to the maximum capacity allowed by the scheme), even if not needed if some energy efficiency measures had been taken. Please remember: the cheapest energy is the energy not consumed! One should firstly take energy saving measures before investing in power generation such as the solar system.
 
In order to make a system appear more powerful, some companies may focus on promoting inverter size. A system with a 4kW rated solar inverter but with only 3kW of solar panels is indeed a 3kW system. The larger inverter will not boost the amount of electricity generated compared to a smaller, suitably sized inverter. As a matter of fact, this will cause additional losses on the inverter being operated at the non-nominal generation point, which usually is the maximum efficiency operating point. While having a larger inverter can be of benefit as you may be able to add more panels at a later date (should this be allowed), this leads on to a good reason to use quality, well known components in case you wish to upgrade your system in the future as it can be difficult to 'mix and match' solar panels. If you buy a system package with a larger inverter for purposes of upgrading at a later date, you need to be certain the company that manufactured those panels will still be around at that point in time and producing the same panels as well. In addition, even if they are, if the panels are of low quality, the original solar modules may have degraded more over the elapsed period compared to a good quality panel. As a single degraded solar panel can affect the performance of an entire system, your upgraded system may not perform to its full potential.
 
Package deals are a great way to save cash, but not all packages are created equally. For example, a company might use top quality solar panels, but skimp on the inverter, cabling and mounting system quality in the hope that the panel brand name will dazzle you and make you  ignore the other components. Cobbled together packages should be avoided, as "compatible" does not necessarily mean optimal. Mixing good quality panels with  poor quality solar inverters, or even using quality solar modules and inverters but skimping on wiring quality will have an effect on a system's performance and possibly on safety.
 
Designing an optimum rooftop solar power system is not a simple task. Everything must be taken into consideration including Panel voltage output, Panel quality, Wiring quality, Switch gear durability, Inverter quality, Operating temperature ranges, String arrangements, Strength of mounting solution, Resistance to weather, Wind resistance, Optimum positioning to eliminate panels getting dirty, Inverter and panel matching, Number of MPP inputs of the inverter, Optimum inverter auto switching, etc.
  
It is not all that common, but in some cases in order to save money a company will obtain components from ''parallel imports''. This is where the component is genuine, but has not come through the proper supply channels. In these situations, if something goes wrong with the component, the manufacturer may not honour the warranty. It is important to check with the company you are considering acquiring a system from, that either they are an authorised distributor, or have sourced the panels through an authorised wholesaler. In other cases, counterfeit or cheaper "no-name" products will be used. This can not only prove more costly as the equipment may not pass the EAC inspection and cause long delays, but the equipment may not perform as well as with established brands, or even present fire/electrocution hazards through shoddy workmanship. There have been reported fires on the DC side due to improper components and/or workmaship.
 
Look for proper certifications. The ''CE'' Mark must be stamped on all pieces of equipment, whereas for solar panels the safety standard IEC61730 applies, and they must also comply with either IEC61215 or IEC61646 depending on the module technology. Not all solar panels are equal. While most panels will perform as rated under ideal conditions, a poor quality panel performance will drop off dramatically in marginal conditions. "No name" panels may also use poor quality sealants that will do the job for the first couple of years, but then after that degrade to a point moisture enters the panel - and there is no easy fix for that situation.
 
An item often not closely scrutinised in a solar power system package is the inverter. An inverter is the device which converts DC electricity from the panels into AC electricity suitable for use in your home or feed the national grid. Sometimes a package might have top brand solar panels, but may skimp on the inverter quality in order to maintain an attractive price level. A  low quality inverter will be inefficient and may have a shorter lifespan. Being an expensive item to replace, be sure a good quality inverter is included in your solar power system.
 
A good place for consumers to start when offered a PV package is to ask for the brand name for each component and then to research the brand history on the Internet. A low advertised price might not be just due to low quality components. While it is not unusual for prices to vary based on the type of structure upon which a solar power system is placed; any extras should be clear and explicitely stated. A point usually ovelooked is the monitoring of power production. Some inverter manufacturers offer a web-based monitoring free of charge, while others may charge an annual fee for the service. Some may offer local serial connection as standard while others may have it at an extra charge.

 

Fine-print extras can add hundreds of Euros onto the final cost of a solar power system; so be very sure to read over quotes and contracts carefully before committing to purchase. A trick some companies may use is to offer you a respected brand name at a good price; then once the contract is signed and sealed, a mysterious "shortage" may occur - meaning you will need to wait much longer or accept another inferior brand. A discount or cash back may be thrown in to lure you into accepting the lesser quality component. While in some cases there may be a genuine shortage, in others it is a tactic to increase profit margins, as margins can be very slim on leading brand products.
 
Many solar panel and related component manufacturers have been established around the world in the last couple of years. While the warranty the new companies may offer can be of the same duration as the more recognised brands, the warranty will be of little value if the company disappears. Solar PV manufacturers disappear often; sometimes to re-emerge under another name, but without assuming the responsibility associated with its previous products. The same may apply for the local installation company, once disappeared no given guarantee is of any value.
 
It is also important to note that a PV system of a specific size will not produce the same level of power under all conditions. Performance is affected by issues such as heat, sunshine, shading and through the normal operation of the inverter when the DC electricity generated by the solar panels is converted to AC power. However, some inverters are better than others in terms of conversion efficiency, just the same as some panels are better than others in relation to heat tolerance. No solar panel is truly shade tolerant. It only takes shade covering a small area of a panel to reduce its performance dramatically and affect the entire array connected in series. It simply does not pay to install panels on an area of roof where they will be in the shade during peak sun hours. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise as you will just be wasting your money.
 
Solar PV fever sweeps the nation in waves (especially during the open scheme periods) and during these times providers can become backlogged. You can expect a wait of up to a few months for a solar installer to perform your installation in some circumstances and this is something you should be made aware of by the provider. If this detail is not mentioned anywhere, ensure you get it in writing; otherwise you may be waiting for 6 months or more. Details should also include what the supplier will do if the installation is not completed by the appointed time by the solar installer.

 

Be cautious when asked for a deposit when ordering a solar power system. 10% - 20% downpayment is the industry norm, with the balance payable on system start-up. However, there have been some cases when an 80% deposit is demanded and then telling consumers it will take 6 - 8 months for their system to be installed! So much can happen in 8 months - prices can move downwards making the price paid today not such a good deal when the system is finally installed, or even new technology may become available. But probably the issue of most concern is: will the company still be around in 8 months? What if currency exchange rates experience a weakened Euro and suddenly components cost 30% more? Will they be able to absorb that increase? If the company goes bankrupt, what happens to your 80% deposit? This scenario also begs the question - what type of cash flow issues do these companies already have that they need to demand so much money up front? Whatever the scenario, the demand for a high deposit coupled with a long lead up time until installation can be a very risky business for the consumer.
 
Everyone loves a bonus, but when too much emphasis is placed on a bonus rather than the core product, the solar power system itself, it is a cause for concern. Bear in mind that most gadgets and bonuses included with solar power packages have cost the vendor far less than the retail value they put upon them. Unless the bonus is directly related to the solar power system, you'll be better off forsaking the bonus and negotiating a cheaper price on the system. Be especially wary of offers of free appliances such as big screen TV's. Plasma TV's are often called "space heaters" for good reason and consume a lot of power. You're buying a solar power system to save on emissions and electricity bills, so why spend those savings by using appliances that you perhaps don't really need and are very inefficient?
 
Some solar PV companies may have close ties with other industries, such as roof repair and roof restoration businesses, or it may be incorporated under their own business. There is nothing wrong with that as such, but what can happen is that a houseowner calls in a roof repairer who then offers a fantastic deal on a solar power system using high pressure tactics and a ''friendly'' advice. Alternatively, the roof repair company may just sow the seed and then pass on the houseowner details to a solar company for targeting. Investing in a solar power system is a decision that should be made after serious thought, having been presented all the facts and figures and after having had time for thorough research and comparing packages from different companies - you should not expect to call in a tradesman for roof repairs and have them sell a solar power package to you on the same day!
 
Remember, you are investing a sizeable sum from your own pocket and your house is being modified. You should ensure that the right person is executing the installation - it is critical you choose a suitable solar installer. Will the solar installer who climbs onto your roof to perform the installation be the same man who signs off on the paperwork? Does the installer have full accreditation or is the work done by an electrician and later checked by a more qualified supervisor? If your installer is just learning, it means you are one of the early installations and your roof is his/her classroom. Ask for the solar installer’s accreditation and ask where he/she is normally located - you may want someone local in case there are issues that need adressing.



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