South Africa pushes solar geysers

9 November 2009

The South African government has introduced a draft framework aimed at ensuring the installation of a million solar-powered geysers in households and commercial buildings in South Africa over the next five years.

Speaking at the Solar Water Heating Conference in Johannesburg last week, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said South Africa and the rest of the continent had long under-exploited the power of the sun.

She said that South Africa had in the past relied heavily on coal and oil, which used to come cheaply, and as a result other energy forms were not explored.

“We are now in a situation where tough choices have to be made regarding our energy,” Peters said.

She said renewable energy technologies would help to mitigate climate change, and could also help create up to 100 000 new jobs in the country.

Solar water heating

Peters said the continent lagged behind in implementation of solar water heating mainly due to the high costs involved. According to Peters, a typical residential solar water heating system reduces the need for conventional water heating by about two-fifths.

“Investments in renewable energy in Africa remain a challenge,” she said, adding however, that she was confident that the five-year target would be met.

“I think the target is easily achievable. We want to save people money.”

While renewable energy was more expensive, Peters said that the government had made big strides in developing Renewable Energy Feed In Tariffs (Refit) to incentivise the industry.

State power company Eskom has also offered incentives to pursuade households to turn to solar power.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews

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