Why solar water heater plan is failing?

It has become clear that the campaign to extend the use of solar water heaters has failed and that a new approach is now necessary, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

In the last two years only 115,000 solar geysers have been installed against a government target of one million and a market potential for three or four times that much.

The main reason for the failure, says the chamber, is that demand side management has not been taken up as a national priority. Instead the promotion of solar heaters was left to ESKOM and its subsidy scheme as well as the municipalities.

Peter Haylett, chairman of the chambers energy portfolio commitee, says every solar geyser has the potential to save R 300 a month or R 3,600 a year and this will be revenue lost to the municipalities and ESKOM. A hundred thousand solar water heaters in a city like Cape Town would cost the municipality about R 360 million a year and the one million in the government target would cost the electricity suppliers R 3.6 billion a year.

"In other words, the people who have the most to lose from a sucessful campaign are asked to run it. One can understand their lack of enthusiam," he says.

He says a national plan to put solar water heater on every roof is now necessary and ESKOM and the municipalities should have nothing to do withit. Not only will this save electricity and the cost of new generating capacity but it will promote a worthwhile job creating industry."