Johannesburg – A solar water heating framework has been put together by government, the Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters announced on Thursday.

She was addressing about 500 delegates who had gathered for a solar water heating conference at a hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.

Peters said the framework would be used by her department in its quest to install one million solar water heaters in households and commercial buildings over a period of five years.  Peters said a detailed framework would be presented to delegates to give their input. The draft would then be updated with the delegates’ input so that the framework could be implemented soon.

Peters pointed out that big strides had been made in the development of Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs (Refit) to offer incentives to the renewable energy industry to generate electricity.

Action plan

She said focus would be given to the non-grid side, where water heating falls.

Quoting from her budget speech, she said interest parties in the solar energy industry would be meeting sometime this year to develop an action plan in this regard.

The stakeholders have since met at a concentrated solar power workshop which led to a memorandum of understanding with the Clinton Climate Initiative programme of the William J Clinton Foundation.

“We expect that the Foundation through their expertise will assist us to assess opportunity in renewable energy, more especially in the field on concentrated solar power,” Peters said.

She said her department’s intentions, together with the Clinton Foundation was to explore the possibility of building solar parks.

“We may need to explore the concept of solar parks for industrial or commercial parks application in respect of water heating.”

Job creation

Peters said the programme to install solar water heaters in households had the potential to create up to 100 000 jobs across the value chain that included manufacturing, installation and maintenance.

“A typical residential solar water heating system reduces the need for conventional water heating by approximately two-fifths”.

“It minimises the expense of electricity of fossil fuel to heat the water and reduces the associated environmental impact,” Peters said.

She, however, acknowledged that though solar heating systems saved money, the upfront costs discouraged many households from installing them.

Peters said appropriate policy and incentives could, however, increase public uptake awareness.


Courtesy of News24 website.