Solar-heated geyser plan back on track in PE, South Africa

ONE month after the Central Energy Fund (CEF) put on hold the largest renewable energy project Nelson Mandela Bay has yet seen, well-placed sources and suppliers have revealed that the R900-million roll-out of solar-heated geysers to residents is back on track.
The mammoth project is almost twice the size of another private solar-heated geyser roll-out in the city, by the Solar Academy of SA (Sasa) to RDP homes.
Suppliers said the CEF sent out confirmation last week that the project was back on track.
It had been derailed after the Department of Energy (DoE) intervened in the project – some sources claimed it was trying to centralise the work which the CEF, which falls under it, was doing – temporarily putting it on ice and putting suppliers, who were about to roll-out the R10-million pilot project, in a panic.
A letter to suppliers from the CEF last week, of which The Herald has a copy, stated: “We are delighted to inform you that our engagement with the DoE has yielded positive results. We are now ready to implement the ETA (a CEF subsidiary) SWH (solar water heater) project.”
A meeting between the CEF executive and the municipality is planned for tomorrow, to formalise the project’s resumption.
“We are finalising details in consultation with a number of role-players. A formal announcement will be made once this process has been completed,” said CEF spokesman Mandla Tyala.
Suppliers, meanwhile, have heaved a sigh of relief. “This project first came to the fore four years ago when the metro called for proposals. We have been involved and working on the project from the outset,” said Terry Bilson, owner of renewable energy company Genergy, one of the firms involved in the project.
“We are very excited about the prospect of working with ETA … to roll out a project of this scale in our own backyard. It was a really great relief when the announcement was made that the project is back on track because Genergy has invested heavily in many aspects of this project.”
The CEF wants to see the installation of up to 100000 high- pressure solar-heated geysers, mostly to middle-class households in the city that opt for them. Residents will pay back a discounted price of about R12000 through their municipal accounts over up to six years.
The municipality declined to comment until after the meeting tomorrow.
Brian Hayward

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