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SA minister of energy praised for commitment to local solar water heater content

Minister of Energy,
Dipuo Peters
21 May 2012 – The Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (Sessa) has commended South Africa’s minister of energy, Dipuo Peters, for her intention to boost levels of South African content in solar water heaters installed under the auspices of government’s local procurement, energy efficiency and skills development accords.

In her budget speech to the South African parliament on May 17th Peters said that demanding higher levels of local content would benefit the manufacturing industry and create job opportunities. Referring to the local procurement, energy efficiency and skills development accords that government concluded, she said it was her department’s intention to make these agreements have practical meaning, especially with regard to the country’s integrated resources plan (IRP) implementation plan and the biofuels strategy.

“While we are recording good progress with the implementation of the solar water heating (SWH) programme, I need to indicate that the majority of these systems, particularly the low pressure type that we install in the RDP and medium income residential sectors, are imported,” she said. “This is clearly untenable and the time has arrived for us to intervene if we are to make a difference in creating local job opportunities. I have therefore decided that from this year, the solar water heater programme will work on a different model. In essence, only those suppliers who commit to localise their product will be able to participate in the government funded subsidy programme. We will be announcing the details of a new approach to support only those suppliers who install units from manufacturers who commit to bring their factories to South Africa.”

Sessa acting-CEO, Theo Covary, says, “Sessa is on record as noting that, while solar water heating installations increased dramatically, with over 18,000 m² installed last year, most of this capacity was imported. We are delighted that minister Peters has recognised the inequity, and realised that government must implement and enforce local content and skills targets if it is to create the green jobs it has promised.”

Covary cautions, however, that roll-out of SWH projects must not be compromised while the Department of Energy builds the framework for implementing and enforcing local content. In addition, getting clear guidelines was vital so that the industry could get to work boosting capacity.