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The South African Department of Energy (DoE) has cut the budget for its Solar Water Heater (SWH) programme from R394 million last year to zero in the 2018/19 financial year.

This is according to a press statement issued by political party Democratic Alliance (DA), which says it is planning to write to energy minister Jeff Radebe, to request that he explain how it came to be that there is no money allocated for the programme.

The DA cited DOE's Annual Performance Plan (APP) stating that since the programme was moved back from Eskom, over 80,000 units have been manufactured.

One of the goals set out in the APP is said to provide a further 20,000 households per year with non-grid (mainly solar) electrification and 57,000 solar water heaters are expected to be manufactured over the medium-term.

However, the political party says no progress has been registered in respect of the last phase of the SWH programme, which is the installation phase. Read more: ERC extends solar water heater requirements deadline

It is reported that the energy department moved this phase to the Central Energy Fund (CEF) for it to commence with the installation in collaboration with the Independent Power Producer (IPP) Office.

Hefty budget for Solar Water Heater programme

According to the DA, previously an estimated R400 million had been budgeted for the programme. “The Minister must also provide steps to prevent the closure of the industry,” the media statement read.

The statement further reads: “To date, the IPP Office and energy officials have not responded to queries on this budget cut. The budget cuts will affect a number of small medium enterprises, with closures and job losses on the cards.”

The SWH programme is a crucial part of the energy mix and it is up to the government to ensure that its growth is supported and not threatened.

African Utility Week