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Solar water heater programme hits snags

The Department of Energy had encountered a number of challenges in the roll-out of its solar water heater programme, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said yesterday.





The government has set a target of installing 1- million solar geysers in SA by 2014. The geysers are seen as vital in the drive to introduce renewable energy, and crucial in attempts at easing pressure on the country’s electricity grid.



Solar heaters could also contribute up to 23% towards the government’s target of renewable energy, contributing 10000GWh of final energy consumption by 2013.





In a reply to a Parliamentary question from Congress of the People MP Phillip Dexter, Ms Peters said some of the challenges the department faced in rolling out the solar water heaters included shoddy installations, high capital costs of the heaters, and programme financing.





"Efforts to address these challenges are progressing quite well," she said. Scaling up local production as demand increased would also put a downward pressure on product prices, Ms Peters said.





Earlier this year, Eskom reduced its solar water heater subsidy because of very high demand, which meant that the power utility was running low on funds set aside to finance the scheme .





Responding to another parliamentary question from Independent Democrats MP Lance Greyling, Ms Peters said that to address the challenges associated with financing the solar water heating programme, the new standard offer incentive scheme that would fund solar water heaters had been developed.





She said the standard offer would provide a tariff-based incentive to facilitate the implementation of the insurance geyser replacement programme, corporate social responsibility initiatives as well as employee programmes.



"A funding model for this tariff- funded scheme has been finalised, and through engagements with Nersa (the National Energy Regulator of SA) and Eskom, the department is working on its implementation," Ms Peters said.



Mr Greyling said Ms Peters’ responses were "full of vague promises".



He said the solar water heater programme was the quickest and cheapest way to get the country out of the electricity crisis.

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