The Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) believe that the solar water heater (SWH) market is set to grow rapidly in South Africa and aim to install one-million SWHs by 2014.

The tariff increase of 24,8% requested by State-owned power utility Eskom, as well as the reincarnation of nongrid technology industries, the repositioning of the South African SWH industry and the opportunities to grow the economy and create jobs and livelihood will all help the installation of SWHs in the country, DoE clean energy division acting chief director David Mahuma said at the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association’s Stainless Steel Solar Water Heat-ing Interest Group Collabora-tion.

He pointed out that high- and medium-level households were able to break even by installing SWHs if the increases in electricity in the past four to five years were factored in. He said that the DoE would continue to promote SWHs, as they have significant economic and environmental benefits and there was great potential for SWHs in South Africa.

DTI director for advanced manufacturing enterprise and industry development Gerhard Fourie said that the depart-ment wanted to establish a local SWH manufacturing industry. The Industrial Policy Action Plan (Ipap), a three-year programme revised on a yearly basis and aimed at promoting long-term industrialisation and industrial diversification, provided a significant opportunity to develop green and energy efficient industries and services in South Africa.

Mahuma said that the approval of Ipap affected targeted growth industries, which included the SWH market. Fourie added that there was a direct correlation between investment in the SWH industry and job creation in manufacturing.

The DoE’s National Solar Water Heating Programme aims to reduce electricity demand, offset electricity costs through savings on water heating and achieve the country’s renewable-energy aims. It is informed by a number of other energy initiatives, such as the White Paper on energy policy, the renewable-energy policy and the energy efficiency strategy.

Mahuma pointed out that benefits of using solar water heating were improved municipal energy supply security and job, creation; it also played a significant role in fulfilling the sustainable development imperatives of the country and provided opportunities for the public and commercial sectors.

Despite these benefits, attendees at the event pointed out that the market for SWHs was not currently active and needed to be unlocked. It was concluded that the solution lay in education and, further, that government should institute legislation that enforced SWH geyser installation for all new houses and developments.

Article by Jacqueline Holman, courtesy of Engineering News website