South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday officially launched the National Solar Water Heating (SWH) programme in Winterveldt, north-west of Pretoria, where some 270 SWH units have already been installed. The government has the ambition of installing one-million solar water heaters across South Africa by 2014, and is aiming at creating the best policy and legislative environment for this to be achieved.
A total of 10 400 units were earmarked to be delivered in the City of Tshwane alone, and residents wishing to take part in the programme would need to register with the municipality if they were willing to participate in the programme. Local municipalities and the Development Bank of Southern Africa were co-ordinating the programme, with funding coming from a number of sources, such as Eskom’s demand side management budget, the proposed National Energy Regulator of South Africa renewable energy feed-in-tariff, and the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund.
Similar programmes have also started in Ekhurhuleni, and in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan, which were initially started by the Central Energy Fund, but have been incorporated into the larger programme.
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters explained that the units installed in Winterveldt were imported, as would be the case with the first 200 000 units installed through the programme, as the country gears up its manufacturing capacity towards SWH.
“We could roll out faster, but we don’t have the technology – that is why we have to rely on those that are importing the technology. And that is why it is important that these are SABS [South African Bureau of Standards] approved,” Peters said, adding that by the second year of the programme, more locally manufactured units would be installed.
Ten people from the local community were trained on installation, and contracted to install the systems. Once trained and confident, between 60 and 80 SWH units could be installed a week by these installers, who work in teams of two. Department of Energy Director General Nelisiwe Magubane said that further roll-outs were planned to take place this year at Sol Plaatjie in the Northern Cape, as well as in Ventersburg, in the Free State.
Zuma explained to residents from the informal settlement gathered at the launch that using renewable energy reduced the need to use coal-generated electricity, thereby reducing pollution. However beyond offering environmental benefits, it also offered cost and health benefits.
He further urged the community to take care of the solar water heaters that they received.
This article has been edited. Original article by Christy van der Merwe, courtesy of Engineering News website.