Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters on Thursday said that the target of rolling out one-million solar water heaters (SWHs) in South Africa over the next five years was “easily attainable.”
She added that considering the overwhelming number of SWH industry role players present at the launch of the draft SWH framework in Johannesburg on Thursday, the industry “could do more”, and exceed that target.
She clarified that the target had been set, and that the funding to assist the reaching of this target would be derived from electricity tariffs, as the rollout of SWHs was a demand-side management (DSM) project.
She also added that it was not enough to provide generous subsidies, and that the relevant standards needed to be in place, product certification and quality assurance would also be required, and public awareness was key.
Department of Energy acting DG Nelisizwe Magubane highlighted that for the target to be reached, no less than 200 000 SWH units would need to be installed a year.
Magubane noted that the key policy interventions required to meet the target were: the finalisation of the framework; provision of rules by the National Energy regulator of South Africa (Nersa); drawing up mandates for utilities to outline their responsibilities; ensuring building codes and regulations were aligned; assisting municipalities to draw up bylaws including SWH; and encouraging local manufacture.
Peters said that SWHs were an elegant and flexible solution to DSM, and could reduce household energy costs, as well as negative environmental impacts. The technology was also viewed as having development potential as increasing demand for SWH systems would encourage local manufacture, which could stimulate job creation.
She stated that solar water heating had the potential to create some 100 000 jobs across the value chain, including installation and maintenance of systems. She added that the technology was well established, continually improving, used in many sectors, and largely viewed as one of the most effective renewable energy systems.
SWH industry role players were gathered for the launch of the draft SWH framework, and would work with government officials, making inputs on the framework, throughout the day.
Nersa electricity regulation member Thembani Bukula explained that those present should criticise constructively, as the ambition was for the framework to be finalised as soon as possible once all inputs were received. “It’s time to implement what we have. Time to do what we can with what we have, not what we wish we had,” he added.
“We want to update the draft SWH implementation framework immediately after this conference and implement it in no time,” reiterated the Minister.
“It’s time to deliver on our commitment to deliver a better life for all,” Peters said, and added that the Department of Energy was investigating options for the rollout of SWHs for the low income housing category, and solar technology should not only be available to those who “already have”.
"It's time to turn what looks like a possible market into a reality," concluded Bukula.