Solar energy: putting Africa’s sunshine to use

Sunshine and cloudless days are synonymous with the African continent. Finally, the South African government might just put our abundant, free sunshine to tangible use.  The Minister of Finances, Mr. Pravin Gordhan announced a government solar geyser programme last week.  The goal: having one million solar geysers up and running in two years time.  Although the country has been investigating and even installing solar energy on a small scale, Gordhan’s announcement for the first time, involves two concepts thought of as pivotal in alternative energy initiatives: funding and the public. It is expected that the government’s solar geyser programme will move forward, faster, due to a public rebate programme, set to begin on 1 April 2012.  Members of public making use of the government solar geyser system, will be refunded for their energy savings.

Although such a refund programme has already been proposed in 2010, Eskom (South Africa’s sole provider of electricity) eliminated the programme.  Their reason? Well, Eskom believed that insufficient energy will be saved through such a programme.  Yet, many countries including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada have implemented rebate programmes successfully, with good energy savings to prove the validity of the programme…one cannot help wondering, why do developing countries so often feel the need to reinvent the wheel?

With the recent national budget annoucement, Gordhan set aside R4,7 thousand million for  implementation of solar geysers, which will most likely be allocated to lower income households.

With a growing population, exceeding the currently available electricity resources, South Africa and more particularly Eskom, cannot otherwise but to explore all possible solutions…and  particularly those that have already proven successful in other world regions.  And with South Africa’s abundant, uninterrupted, daily sunshine, such a programme cannot otherwise, but be successful.

Financial info source: South Africa’s financial daily, Sake24

Photo credits: Some rights reserved by Cortes de Cima via flickr.

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Filed under Environmental news: South Africa & Africa

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