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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Solar water heaters being promoted in Western Cape South Africa


South Africa’s ‘green economy’, which is estimated to be worth R45-billion in the short term, offers significant potential for economic growth and job creation, Western Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Alan Winde said on Tuesday.
Winde was speaking at a GreenCape Initiative event hosted by Nedbank to look at energy efficiency funding options for solar water heaters and heat pumps.
The GreenCape Initiative is a vehicle established by the Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape Town to unlock manufacturing and employment potential in the ‘green economy’ in the province.
Winde said that the Western Cape government is looking at policy changes to encourage solar water heater and heat pump fitments in homes. Options being considered were to pursue a policy requiring new housing developments to use only solar water heaters or heat pumps and to make it mandatory for existing high consumption users to retrofit similar energy saving devices.
The Western Cape government has set a target that 15% of the province’s energy should come from renewable sources by 2014. Swift action is required to achieve the target, Winde said, adding that national government processes, most notably confusion around the renewable energy feed-in tariff, were holding back renewable energy development.
The GreenCape Initiative is trying to identify areas that were slowing progress in adoption of renewable energy solutions, such as in the case of solar water heaters and heat pumps. In support of this, Winde said the Western Cape government would launch ‘Red Tape to Red Carpet’ on August 4. This initiative, which falls under the Cape Chamber of Commerce, would identify problematic legislation and policies stalling economic growth and preventing industry from creating job opportunities. The Western Cape government would then work towards either removing these ‘blockages’ or justifying the need for the existing policies to industry and advising as to how they could work successfully within the current frameworks.
At the GreenCape Initiative event, Nedbank staff also presented the bank’s funding options for solar water heaters and heat pumps for both individual consumers and installers, which were criticised by some attending the question and answer session after the presentations.
A central criticism was that through its insurance arm, Nedbank has an opportunity to provide finance for replacement solar water heaters and heat pumps, but currently the financing process for the higher cost installations was too slow and clients were reverting to electrical geysers because the replacement time was faster.
Hilton Vos of the Nedbank small business services division welcomed the criticism, saying it provided information for proposals that could be taken to the Nedbank head office and used in the development of new products aimed at funding renewable energy projects.

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