Draft solar water heating framework drawn

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Johannesburg - Government has come up with a draft national solar water heating framework aimed at popularizing the idea of solar water power, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Thursday.

The minister said South Africa, as well as the rest of the continent, had long under-utilized the power of the sun while adding that the global climate needed to be looked after.

"We are all here to make it possible that our planet is in safe hands," she told delegates gathered at a Solar Water Heating conference.

She said that as a country, South Africa has in the past relied much on coal and oil which came 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, power shortages in the past," said Peters.

She said renewable energy technologies help to mitigate climate change and that South Africa is looking at a way of reducing "over dependence" on fossil fuels and that alternative energy sources could help in the creation of about 100 000 jobs.

She said the continent lagged behind in implementation of solar water heating mainly due to the high costs involved.

"Investments in renewable energy in Africa remains a challenge," she said.

The framework is intended to ensure that government's target of installing a million solar powered geysers in households as well as commercial buildings is reached in the next five years.

"I think the target is easily achievable. We want to save people money," she said.

According to Peters, a typical residential solar water heating system reduces the need for conventional water heating by about two fifths.

She said that government has made big strides in developing Renewable Energy Feed In Tariffs (REFIT) to incentivise the industry.

Delegates at the conference are expected to make inputs into the draft.