POWER SUPPLY: City Promotes Solar Heaters
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The City of Cape Town says that the installation of a solar water heater can save up to 30% of the electricity usage in an average household, while reducing harmful carbon emissions. This is because a traditional electrical geyser uses between 30% and 50% of all power consumed in the home.
“As electricity prices continue to rocket, it makes sound economic and environmental sense to replace the geyser with a solar water heater – especially in South Africa which is blessed with strong sunlight all year round,” says alderman Clive Justus.
A solar heater is a collector panel through which water passes in order to be heated by the sun. It feeds into an insulated geyser where the hot water is stored for use. Solar panels should be placed on a North-facing roof for maximum exposure to sunlight. Most systems include electrical backup for use during periods of high demand for hot water or minimal hours of sunlight.
For a family of four with an average electricity bill of R900 per month, a typical solar panel system would cost between R12 000 and R35 000 to install. However, this system could produce savings of some R300 per month or about R3 600 per year. “Thus the capital cost could be paid off in a few years,” says Justus, “or even sooner if the price of electricity continues to spiral at the rates currently proposed by Eskom”.
Justus added that there is “ongoing engagement between the City of Cape Town, Provincial Government and Eskom to encourage the roll out of a customer management programme, which includes the Eskom rebate scheme for solar water heaters.”
He welcomed Eskom’s announcement that, subject to certain conditions, it would substantially increase subsidies by way of a 15-30% rebate for the installation of approved solar heaters. This brings the previous figure of R4 900 up to a new maximum of just over R12 000.
The City has drafted an Energy Efficient Heating Water By-law. It states that all new buildings and extensions requiring water heating must use solar or other types of energy-efficient heating. Consultation with interested and affected parties will take place shortly.
Justus says the City plans to put out a request for proposals early this year to appoint a major service provider which can finance and facilitate a voluntary mass roll-out of some 300 000 solar water heaters to residential properties across Cape Town.
The revised Eskom subsidy will be utilised and residents will be offered a fixed repayment plan through their rates account at a figure equivalent to the present electricity charges for water heating using a normal geyser.
“In addition to the direct financial savings, a residential solar water heating system can prevent some 2 000 kg of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere annually, thus reducing a household’s CO2 emissions by about 30%. This figure is deduced from the amount of CO2 a coal-fired power station would have emitted in order to generate the electricity consumed, without the use of a solar water heater,” says Justus.
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