The government’s ambitious solar water heating rebate programme could have gone a long way in helping reach this level of energy saving. But the project, entrusted to the power utility, has fallen dismally short of its target.
Now the project will, by January 31, move to the department of energy where it could potentially be bolstered. But the department’s silence has detractors worried that the industry, and the jobs it has created, could be at risk.
When the solar water heating rebate programme was launched in 2008 – when rolling blackouts first took hold of South Africa – it was hoped that a rebate would encourage consumers to heat water, one of the most intensive household activities, with solar power and result in “maximum power savings”.
The government aims for 10 000GWh to be replaced by power from renewable sources, and the department of energy believes 23% of this target can be achieved by solar water heating.