An off-grid adventure awaits daring couples on the Floatwing, a floating romantic getaway for two. The Portuguese design firm Friday developed the beautiful self-sufficient home, which was created with a focus on energy efficiency and environmentally friendly materials. The eco-conscious Floatwing boasts a small environmental footprint and can produce up to 100 percent of its annual energy needs over six months.
Friday offers four different models for Floatwing, each providing different levels of autonomy depending on the type of installed equipment. The best-outfitted Floatwing is for off-grid applications and relies on solar energy, a wastewater treatment plant with advanced tertiary treatment, a mini supply water treatment plant, and stored fuel to achieve self sufficiency. In addition to renewable technologies, Floatwing’s carbon footprint is further reduced through the use of “low environmentally impactful materials.”
The Floatwing is made up of two levels: the long floating deck and the accessible upper deck that doubles as a roof. The glass-clad daylit living area is lined with wood and includes a fully equipped kitchen, heat pump, AC generator, barbecue on the upper terrace, a wine cellar, and zero to three bedrooms depending on the model selected. The windows can be opened in the summer for natural ventilation, while a pellet stove keeps the space warm and toasty in winter.
While the structure has a six-meter-long fixed width, the house can be customized from 10 meters to 18 meters in length. The modular Floatwing neatly packs up into two standard shipping containers and can be shipped to almost anywhere in the world. Two small outboard motors let users steer the floating home across the waters at a moderate speed of three knots (approximately three miles per hour).
“For six months of the year, between April and September, the floating house does not need any kind of refuelling or maintenance,” writes Friday. “This period of autonomy can be extended to one year with just some stored fuel and bags of pellets.”
According to a report, fossil fuel savings and reduced load-shedding have saved the economy R8.3-billion in the first six months of the year.
Despite independent power remaining a very small part of South Africa’s energy mix, wind and solar projects have generated a R8.3-billion benefit in just the first six months of the year.
This is according to a recent report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) which attempted to calculate how much money renewable technologies are saving South Africa.
From January to June this year, the collective contribution of wind energy and solar power (photovoltaic) projects to the economy exceeded their tariff (of R4.3-billion) by R4-billion. Wind energy produced the most net savings of R1.8-billion, the CSIR report said.
This is significantly more than last year’s findings where, in the CSIR report for 2014, renewables brought net savings of R800-million over the entire year.
“The latest figures demonstrate clearly that the benefits renewables bring to South Africa are increasing all the time as more developments connect to the grid – now bringing 10 times more financial benefit than last year,” said the South African Wind and Energy Association (Sawea).
The benefits of renewables for the electricity market are calculated by the CSIR in two ways.
Firstly, diesel and coal fuel cost savings, totalling R3.6-billion, created by solar and wind energy that replaced what would otherwise have been fossil fuel-generated power. Secondly, the saving to the economy through avoiding “unserved energy” (load-shedding).
The report showed load shedding occurred during 82 days, out of 181 days, in the first half of 2015. In these days load shedding occurred for approximately 709 hours accounting for 1 095 GWh of unserved energy.
Over and above this the research identified a further 203 hours in which consumers’ energy would have been curtailed had wind and solar energy not been providing power to the grid. These macroeconomic benefits are calculated at R4.6-billion.
Tobias Bischof-Niemz, who heads up the CSIR’s Energy Centre which produced the report said the centre had developed a methodology to determine whether at any given hour of the year, renewables have replaced coal or diesel generators, or whether they have even prevented “unserved energy’”
The cost of unserved energy is a macroeconomic cost per kWh to the entire South African economy of not being able to serve customers’ electricity demand. In the Department of Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) this cost is assumed to be R90 per kWh in April 2015. This was the number used in the study to calculate the economic value renewables have contributed.
CSIR noted Eskom had presented a study with a slightly lower number, but the research opted not to use it as it was still in the consultation process.
The department of energy is procuring new generation capacity and has already allocated a total of 8.1 GW of renewables (mainly wind & PV) for procurement from Independent Power Producers
In May, an additional 6 300 MW of renewable energy would be procured; over and above the existing 5 243 MW’s already awarded under the renewable energy independent power producer procurement (REIPPP) programme.
The CSIR research outcomes were based on projects commissioned through the earlier biding windows.
New wind and PV projects have become significantly cheaper in recent years. “The cost of wind energy is now between 60-70 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh) with solar managing to get close to 80 cents. Wind energy is now close to 50% cheaper than the predicted costs of new build coal powered stations Medupi and Kusile,” Sawea said.