MPs pleased with rollout of Solar Water Heater programme’s progress

The Department of Energy briefed the Economic Development Select Committee on Tuesday, 25 February, giving MPs an update on the rollout of the Solar Water Heater (SWH) programme that should see four million SWHs being installed in homes by 2030.

According to the Department’s presentation, SWH uses innovative renewable energy technologies that will hopefully result in the “establishment of a robust local SWH manufacturing base in South Africa”.

There were 395 088 recorded SWH installations as at 10 January 2014. Statistics showed that the installations were clearly skewed and biased towards the Western cape (55 129), the Eastern Cape (56 452), KwaZulu-Natal (71 054), and Gauteng (132 059). While Limpopo received the least SWHs (4 361), followed by the North West (11 115), Mpumalanga (14 959), the Northern Cape (16 457), and the Free State (33 502).

The Department’s plan is to install approximately 600 000 more SWHs over the next three years. However, there are certain challenges that would need to be overcome for this goal to be a reality.

The Department’s Chief Director for Clean Energy, Mokgadi Modise, told the Committee that the quality of SWH installations needed improvement, while funding is also required for fixing and maintaining, on a sustainable basis, the already installed SWH systems as well as future installations.

According to the presentation, there have been repeated complaints about poor workmanship, which has resulted in SWH systems that are dysfunctional and in repair. To address this matter, the Department is piloting a SWH capacity building programme for plumbers and hot water installers within beneficiary municipalities. “The aim is for SWH training to precede SWH installations in all targeted sites, thus ensuring the sustainability of the SWH project during and beyond the installation phase.”

Given the challenges, there were also a number of successes. The Department noted a reduced amount of energy consumption, reduced carbon emissions, and an increase in SWH value chain jobs that were created, specifically for youth, women and military veterans.

MPs are generally happy with the Department’s progress; however, they are concerned about the role municipalities will play since Eskom is mostly responsible for rolling out the SWH programme. Modise reassured the Committee that municipalities are still “key players” in the successful delivery of the SWH programme, but said that there had to be more effective communication between the Department and local government.


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