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Q: As households do not drive the energy demand in South Africa wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on Industry to reduce their demand?

A: It is true that the bulk consumers of electricity in South Africa are the mining and other heavy industries like aluminium smelters and steel production. But it is also true that households contribute significantly to the national peak demand. Eskom's residential customers consume around 17,5% of the total electricity generated, with their demand at peak periods amounting to over 30%, and water heating is a significant contributor during peak hours.

The peak period load not only requires the peak supply capacity plus a minimum of 15% reserve capacity according international standards, but also strains the transmission lines and distribution network with high loads and significant losses. The future development and growth of peak demand is the major driving force behind the Eskom built programme.

Q: Should a low income household then have access to SWH?

A: Yes, because:

  1. it allows the household to access more modern energy supply.
  2. it creates jobs, especially for low-skilled people.
  3. it reduces peak demand.

Q: How about households, which actually can afford electricity?

A: SWH-systems in such households will significantly contribute to a drop in peak demand and reduce their electricity consumption in general. Recent studies conducted at the Energy Research Centre UCT have surfaced a trend that middle and upper income households will probably not use more electricity on other appliances if they have saved some money on water heating.

Q: Does using solar water heating reduce Carbon emissions?

A: 4 Million SWHs in South Africa help to avoid roughly 12 MtCO2e annually.

Q: What will 4 Million solar water heaters cost?

A: At an assumption of R15,000 per system, incl. installation (no rebate): 4M x R15,000 = R60bn. Costs for Kusile have recently been estimated to be around R120 billion and climbing.

Further Information

Learn more about energy efficiency here : 
(specifically Gary's article : Domestic solar water heating systems - what are your options?)

Read Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Consultant, Robert Fischer’s monthly news post here:

Click here to read "IRP2 for dummies" blog

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