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Sizwe P Zungu
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Rays of solar: An answer to load shedding

09 April 2019, 09:08

The national solar heater programme (NSWH) aims to initiate a transition from reliance on the electrical grid for hot water in households across South Africa. Eskom the state owned electrical supplier of the country is depend on non-renewables, mainly coal power stations. South Africa is a developing country therefore supply in sustainable energy is of paramount necessity to development. However the country still has to abide by the commitments made in 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) which was held in Durban, South Africa.  A new treaty was established to limit carbon emissions.

The grid still has insufficient supply to meet the country’s demand for electrical power. The shift towards solar geysers will ease the demand on the grid induced by electrical geysers. The (NSWH) programme’s objective is to procure and install 1, 25 million SWH systems throughout South Africa by the year 2019 in order to, among others, provide hot water to communities that previously never had access to it and also introduce energy efficient technologies that will assist in reducing hot water load on the grid.  1, 2 million SWH systems may be considered a shortfall when considering the country’s 14, 5 million houses. However the programme is on its pilot phase.

Benefits of the (NWSH) programme include awareness about the importance of clean energy in communities around the country. This initiates a commencement of an environmentally conscious leadership in government and subsequently the communities.  Moreover households will notice a difference in their electrical expenditure at the end of the month after using a solar geyser.  The manufacture, installation and maintenance is all done locally thus there is more job creation and overall boost for the economy. A solar geyser serves as symbol to constantly remind people about the reality of climate change and how it’s within their power to control the severity of its effects.

Recently the (NSWH) programme has been collapsing. The problem began when the budget for the (NWSH) budget dwindled from 398million in the previous financial year to zero for the 2018/19 financial year. The department of energy halted orders from the manufactures resulting in scares of job losses at the factories. Initially the NWSH programme was a project of Eskom when it was established in 2008. Its targets for the number of household increased thus the project was moved to the department of energy for better efficiency in administration and financing. However the intended efficiency has had an opposite effect.

The minister of the department of energy Tandeka Gqada has commented that she believed part of the reason for the programme’s failure was that it had been moved around. First from Eskom to the department of energy (DOE), then late last (2017) year to the Central Energy Fund supported by the Independent Power Producer (IPP) Office. Shedding hope for the NSWH project, the deputy minister Thembisile Majola said the department was “very worried” about the companies that won the bid but was “engaging with them” and “We haven’t just let it go”.

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