Eskom launched the Solar Water Heating (SWH) program in the beginning of 2008. The aim of the SWH is to assist customers in the purchasing of quality solar water heaters. For a system to be part of the program it should have obtained an SABS conformity certificate on mechanical soundness and installed according to predetermined conditions. The customer can then claim back a rebate funded by ESKOM.
It is believed that in each hour the earth receives more energy than the world can use in a year. Out of this abundance of incoming energy South Africa has one of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world. The solar radiation of South Africa ranges from around 1450 kWh/m2 to about 1950 kWh/m2 per year, compared to Europe which on average is 910kWh/m2 per year.
Technology allows us to use and convert this freely available resource to serve our energy needs, such as water heating. Countries throughout the world are increasingly using solar energy. Areas that do not have nearly as much solar radiation as we do, have high numbers of reliable solar water heaters in use. Countries such as Germany, Israel, Canada, the USA and even Namibia are striding ahead.
Due to the continuous electricity black-outs, there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for solar products in the country. Most of the local solar product suppliers however have a huge problem with parts supply and with effective and dependable service back-up from the solar manufacturers.
The solar industry in South Africa is currently going through a rapid growth phase. The size of the local suppliers consists of a lot of medium sized enterprises.