South Africa: Rebates up to 30 %

90 % of South Africa’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power stations. The fourth quarter of 2007, however, started with massive power cuts as electricity supply fell behind demand. Eskom, the largest electricity supplier in Africa, the South African Government and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), began to implement alternative and renewable energy programmes a year later. Among these is a rebate programme for solar water heaters.

Between 30 and 50 % of the electricity consumed in an average South African household is used to heat water, opening up an enormous potential for solar water heaters to save some of it. The South African government set a clear target for how much renewable energies should contribute to total energy production: 10,000 GWh by 2013. Solar water heating could help with 23 % of that target.

The amount of rebate a homeowner receives depends on the potential a specific product has to save electricity. Figures for evaluation are provided by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). Eskom’s website states that, “The rebate calculates up to 30 % (between 1,500 and 3,000 South African Rand (ZAR)) depending on the equipments' capability to save energy. Each solar system will have its own rebate value according to the energy footprint measured by SABS.” Until now, the initiative's installations amount to 800 systems and Eskom paid homeowners ZAR 3 million. You will find more information about the solar water heating programme in the database of incentive programmes.

To receive rebates, homeowners have to install a solar water heating system delivered by an official Eskom supplier of solar water heaters, who meets the criteria set by Eskom.

To become an official Eskom system supplier, one must offer a five year guarantee for a high pressure system, a proven track record of liability, a passed test certificate from SABS and a membership with the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA). The accreditation of a solar water heating supplier takes 2 weeks and the testing of the system up to 8 weeks. The SABS product test report, which relates to a specific sample, is valid for 18 months, but does not constitute SABS approval. To become an SABS approved manufacturer, which is the next step, the manufacturer must fulfil the requirements of the SABS Mark approval, which ensures through regular tests that systems are of considerable quality.

Eskom is currently controlling a ZAR 2 billion budget that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) allocated to the solar heating programme. These funds are to be used in the areas of development, marketing and incentives. The solar industry in South Africa is underdeveloped and skilled installers are rare. That is why Eskom is currently in negotiations with international manufacturers and local funding institutes to provide training for installation jobs. Members of the programme are also attempting to minimise the import duty on solar water heating equipment to simplify imports for a faster growth of the industry in South Africa.

More information: www.eskom.co.za/dsm

This text was written by marketing and communication manager Hanna Schober, who is based in South Africa: schober_hanna@gmx.at

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