Solar water heating : reducing the barriers.
Naicker, Jayson Shirinivasan.
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There is the potential to use solar energy as an energy efficient method of heating water, instead of using electricity. This study investigated the current barriers to the mass rollout of solar water heaters in South Africa and provided possible solutions to reduce these barriers. Local experts have already identified the key barriers to the rollout of solar water heaters and this study drew from the findings of international practises and applied these findings to the South African context. The barriers that are preventing the industry from developing are: the high price of solar water heaters, the lack of awareness of the technology, the absence of legislation, a tedious process for rebates, non–mandatory standards, insufficient training facilities leading to a shortage of skills and the low price of electricity. The research methodology was a blend of qualitative and a quantitative study including relevant theory supported by seven open-ended questionnaires completed by recognised industry specialists. The information gathered from the questionnaires was analysed and compared to the theory and international experience. The barriers to solar water heating can be overcome by having more government involvement in the development of policies to promote and educate the public on alternative energy sources. This lack of awareness on the technology can be improved by having awareness programmes in schools and frequent broadcasts on radio and television. There is a dire need for the development of cost effective financing mechanisms because the high costs of production influences the price of solar water heaters. Financial incentive models such as rebates, could be more effective in assisting the low and middle-income groups with partial funding for the purchase of the solar water heater.