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Wednesday Jul 11, 2012

Solar water heaters to help Cape Town go green

In a bid to relieve pressure on the electricity grid, save residents money and reduce its carbon footprint, the city will be installing solar water heaters that residents would repay at a later stage.

The city has already put out a tender for a company to supply and install the heaters.

The scheme was welcomed by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mayco member for economic, environment and spatial planning, Belinda Walker, said with electricity tariffs set to increase, the scheme would help residents save money. The city aimed to replace the "old conventional" solar heaters Eskom has rolled out through a rebate subsidy.

Eskom rebates range from R2 879 for small low pressure heaters to R8 964 for 250- to 300litre high pressure systems.

"The large-scale retrofit of conventional electricity geysers with solar water heaters will result in large immediate benefits by saving households money, relieving the pressure on the electricity supply and decreasing environmental damage and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, this programme has the potential to result in local economic and industrial development with the creation of sustainable jobs. This is a win-win situation."

Chamber president Michael Bagraim said the fact that households could repay the water heaters at a later stage made it viable, unlike Eskom's subsidy scheme.

Peter Haylett, chairman of the chamber's industrial focus portfolio committee, said the roll-out of solar water heaters would cost the city some of their income from electricity sales.

"But there is no doubt that it will benefit us all in the long term," Haylett said.

He said the plan would relieve pressure on the electricity grid, save money for consumers, create local jobs and reduce the city's carbon footprint.

"It is an imaginative scheme and it sets an example for the rest of the country. We would like to see schemes like this introduced in every other town and city."

Haylett said the next step would be to review the city's regulations on the use of gas.

"Gas for cooking and heating has the potential to smooth out the evening peak demand period when all the warnings go up on our TV screens. Peaking power is the most expensive electricity generated and that is where we should look for more savings. The city should do everything possible to encourage the use of gas."

Cape Times

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