Why Africa needs to adopt Solar Water Heating

Why Africa needs to adopt Solar Water Heating
If reducing your energy costs is one of your goals to minimize your expenditure, getting a solar water heater should be included in that plan.

With the power crisis and electrical price hikes in the continent, there are numerous interventions offered by various companies claiming to reduce your electricity consumption. Of all these interventions, solar water heating is the only method that is not 100% electrically reliant, meaning that once the initial purchase price has been paid, most of your water heating bill will be free.

The actual savings will depend greatly on your use of hot water , but the general consensus is that this is a long term investment that will save you ( on an average household of 4 people) around 22$- 45$ per month and especially as the electricity price is set to increase over the coming years, this figure may increase accordingly.

Once the system is paid off and there is a rebate offered as well, the solar water heater provides a key link in the overall energy saving strategy for your home or business. So, if reducing your energy costs is one of your goals to minimize your expenditure, getting a solar water heater should be included in that plan.

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Eng. Arvinder Singh of Steelstone Kenya Limited, one of the leading supplier and installer of solar water heating systems in Eastern Africa insists that; the solar water heating market can be considered as growing despite having a presence in various African countries over a significant period. “There are many factors contributing to this growth which include: Increase in the cost of electricity which is predominantly used to heat water in households has turned consumers to alternative sources such as solar; changes in rules and regulations set by the respective authorities has resulted in an increased interest in solar water heating systems further materializing into the increased demand of the water heating systems,” he adds.

Solar water heating systems are increasing in popularity however mainly with major construction projects such as new apartments buildings, hotels etc. Within individual households there is an increase in interest, however due to monetary factors i.e. the initial investment, the interest on occasions to become an installation.

There are an increasing number of distribution channels as well as selling agents as the market growth continues.

In Kenya, the Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) directed that homes and buildings that are likely to consume more than 100 litres of water must fit solar panels . The directive that came into force in May 2012, now known as the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012, was directed to fittings in residences, hotels and guest houses that have hot water facilities. Buildings that existed before the directive came into force were given five years to comply.

The ERC warned developers and contractors that they must comply with the energy regulations, or risk the penalties. The regulations were aimed at cutting down the use of non-renewable energy and ease the current destruction of the environmental and energy burden of the country.

According to Eng. Singh, being a relatively new venture in the African market, solar water heaters have had their own share of challenges in the market.

“Despite the increase in the number of distributors and agents, the lack of expertise has often resulted in the systems to work inefficiently resulting in an increased cost or at times a whole replacement of the system by another company. The bearer of the cost is the owner of the system. Moreover, despite having increased imports of Solar water heating systems, due to a lack of standards and regulations of systems often poor quality systems are imported and installed which leads to the issues mentioned in the previous point. Furthermore this has resulted in a lack of consumer confidence in purchasing the panels due to poor experience,” he affirms.

He further adds that, support from the national government to the local manufacturing industry is very important if growth projections are to be met. “The Government should support the local solar panel manufacturing industry through incentives such as tax cuts or rebates. This will allow the manufactures to compete with the cheap imports; furthermore it will create local jobs and the potential for increased investment both foreign and local which could potentially have a positive effect on the GDP of the country,” he asserts.