Subsidy system back on track for solar geysers
Cape Town - The government’s solar water geyser subsidy system is back on track under the Department of Energy with rebates of thousands of rand offered to consumers who install the systems.
However, the department, which took over the solar water geyser programme from Eskom at the end of January, announced on Thursday that it would implement a new rebate scheme. Subsidies would be on a sliding scale that would increase with the amount of local content that was in the solar water heater system installed. Those with the highest local content would attract the highest rebates.
It did not stipulate how much the rebates would be.
The department said it had developed an electronic data collection and verification scheme and all claims for rebates had to be on this digital system. This would include the name of the product supplier and installer, the size, a photograph and a GPS co-ordinate.
The department would provide the industry with training on the electronic system.
It is also to liaise with the insurance industry to try to get consumers to replace broken electric geysers with solar geysers, particularly in those households and premises where electricity consumption was high.
The purpose of the solar water heater programme is to lower the amount of power used on the country’s constrained grid. Conventional hot water geysers account for between 30 and 50 percent of a household’s electricity consumption.
James Green, vice-chairman of Sustainable Energy Society Southern Africa (Sessa), which represents about 400 solar water heater companies, said on Thursday the industry was delighted that the Energy Department had reinstated the high pressure solar water geyser rebate scheme, with the same level of rebates that had been under Eskom.
“We are also pleased that the department will have a new, more efficient, electronic data collection and verification system.
“This will benefit all parties, installers and consumers. That the programme has been continued has saved jobs and provided certainty to the industry,” Green said.
The department said its mass roll-out of the free solar water geysers to the poor – which it calls the social programme – would continue, and details would be released on March 31.
Because price is a major consideration for the government, the free geysers installed to date have been the cheaper low-pressure geysers.
This programme has been contentious because the Department of Trade and Industry had required both the tank and the collector of a solar water heater to have 70 percent local content each.
The industry has said while this is possible in high-pressure systems, it is not in low-pressure systems. It has said it can produce low-pressure systems with an overall local content of 70 percent, but cannot compete with the imported Chinese tube collectors.