29 April 2010 – President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to save energy in an effort to avoid the load-shedding that plunged the country into darkness in 2007 and 2008.
In its efforts to save the limited resource, Government is embarking on an initiative to implement the use of alternative forms of energy – cheaper and cleaner forms which saves money and the environment.
Solar water heating is one such option that has many benefits as compared with other forms of water heating. Once installed, you have free hot water.
On Wednesday, Zuma launched Government’s Solar Water Heating Programme in Winterveldt, which saw families in the area receive solar panels, Zuma reiterated that energy was not an unlimited resource and people needed to work harder at conserving it.
"We took energy for granted. Things have changed drastically. You will recall that the period 2007 and 2008 saw a number of noticeable disruptions in the electricity supply.
"Large sections of the country were plunged into darkness as a result of Eskom not being able to meet the electricity demand nationwide," he said.
Wednesday’s launch is in line with government’s target of installing at least one million solar water heaters by 2014 to reduce the water heating load on the national grid. Winterveld was chosen as the sight of the launch for the fact that the people living in this area derived wealth from available natural resources such as land and are very innovative.
Zuma said plans were afoot in government to convert water heating for hospitals, clinics, prisons, barracks and other government buildings to solar water heating.
"You will see a lot of that happening in the next few years," he said.
Currently 270 heaters have been installed in some homes in the area and phase two of the installation will supply at least 10 400 additional heaters in Tshwane this year.
Phase three of the project, starting during 2010-2011, will target the whole country over a longer period.
"As we continue to look for other alternatives to save energy, let me remind all that we must continue to save electricity. We must switch off our appliances when they are not in use. Let us share this responsibility as citizens of this country and electricity users," said Zuma.
Commenting on the programme Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said that residents were keen on having solar power heaters in their homes.
"We know that after this launch – a lot of people who have started to see their neighbours having hot water in the morning while they are busy pumping their prima stoves, will want the same," she said.
She added that the advantage of installing solar heaters was that people would save money towards their electricity bill and that they will get rebates for installing it.
"We will be calling a press conference on how the standard offer relates to how you as an individual can save electricity and how you will be able to monitor it and make sure that you can be able to benefit from a particular rebate, "she said.
During the president’s visit to the area, three houses that had been fitted with solar water heaters were visited including that of a disabled man.
Austin Maluleka a 36-year-old unemployed man was one of the recipients of a solar water heating system. The married father of two said that the heater, installed in November 2009, has made his life easier.
"We no longer have to boil water to bath; we use our electricity to cook. I no longer spend a lot of money buying electricity, our tap has hot water," he said.