Cape Town - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTi) has dismissed complaints that its content rule for solar water heaters had killed the local low-pressure solar water geyser industry.

It said there were a number of companies which qualified for the required 70 percent local content of the tank and collectors in solar-water geysers, some of which made tube-type collectors.

It had stipulated a 70 percent local content threshold on solar water geysers for both the tank and collector, because it relieved manufacturers of the burden of providing local content for a wide variety of small components such as screws, bolts and pumps.

The local content applied to high- and low-pressure solar water heaters, singling out complaints about how pressure systems reflected a bias to promote a certain section of the market.

It said companies had imported solar water components “in large quantities, in anticipation that government will procure from them once the roll-out of the solar water heater programme had commenced”.

On Sunday, Western Cape government spokeswoman on economic opportunities Beverley Schäfer said the DA would investigate the stalled low-pressure solar water heater industry to ensure job prospects in Atlantis would not be affected.

She said the Western Cape’s green economy strategic framework had identified Atlantis as a central manufacturing zone, which would become a key manufacturing hub for equipment needed to bolster the green economy.

And DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis has written to the portfolio committee on trade and industry, asking for urgent hearings on the DTi’s local content rules for solar geysers.

“In light of the energy crisis we are currently facing, and the ability of this programme to significantly reduce the pressure on the national grid, any unnecessary hindrances must be swiftly addressed and resolved,” he said.

Cape Times