Solar geyser rollout begins

Lissa Ngorima
The Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority is rolling out a solar water geyser pilot project in Harare. Though The Sunday Mail could not determine the number of households targeted and the installation costs, customers are being encouraged to volunteer.

Geysers will be installed under contract, with repayment recouped via a prepaid metering platform over 12 months to three years. In an interview last week, Zera chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo underscored the advantages of solar geysers, among them reduced energy expenses and durability.

“The Government intends to roll out a pilot project phase on solar water geyser uptake. The solar geysers will be installed at the customer’s homestead after signing a contract and repayment will be recouped through the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company’s prepaid metering platform over a period of between 12 to 36 months.

“Interested customers are urged to approach Zesa Enterprise or the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to be considered for the pilot project.” Eng Magombo said authorities were finalising legal enforcement of a ban on electric geysers and mandatory installation of solar alternatives.

“The electric geysers will be replaced with solar geysers; hence the prohibition will also support local production of solar water geysers, thereby stimulating employment creation. The prohibition of electric regulations will be mandatory on all new houses.

“The regulations will, however, exempt building structures that technically are not possible to have solar water geysers installed such as multi-storey buildings and residential high-rise flats, among others. These exemptions will require the approval of relevant authorities.”

She also said: “Existing houses with electric geysers connected to the grid will be given a five-year grace period to switch to solar water geysers from the date of promulgation at the owners’ expense. Failure to comply will attract a penalty which will be defined after consultations are completed.

“The building by-laws are also being developed at local government level in order to be in synch with the regulation on the prohibition of electric geysers and the proposed solar water geysers.

The building by-laws should take into consideration the need for the building structures to meet the approved standard that sustains the solar water geyser’s weight during its lifetime.”

Zimbabwe has roughly 140 000 installed electric geysers, each accounting for at least 40 percent of power consumption at household level. Switching to solar geysers will save the national grid 280MW and create employment via domestic manufacturing of the units.

South Africa has caught on to the innovation and continues to record significant energy savings, and in South Australia, 47,8 percent of the state’s electricity demand is met by rooftop solar panels.

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