2M – Solar in the long run

Supporting article M: The sooner we switch to solar the better for our pockets in the long run


Consumers look to solar energy
30 October 2009

With state company Eskom proposing steep electricity price hikes, South African consumers are increasingly looking to solar power to supplement their energy needs, according to various suppliers.

“We now receive up to 10 calls a day from people interested in switching to solar energy,” Glen Macdonald, owner of Sunpower in Johannesburg, told the SA Press Association on Thursday.

“However, not many people know how much of a change it is. Switching to solar is a big process, which people don’t realise,” Macdonald said.

‘Viable alternative’
Another supplier, Teljoy, which also rents out television sets, entered the solar industry about two years ago. Business was initially slow, but it now deals with more than 300 inquiries daily.

Teljoy chairman Theo Rutstein said that, while people were reluctant to dig into their pockets to install solar systems, “you will save well over R125 000 over the next 10 years, if [Eskom’s] price hike is approved.”

Solar geysers
Solaraza, based in Cape Town, said many people were searching for solar geysers.
“The influx is so great, that I think providers are finding it difficult to close many deals,” managing director Dane Spear told Sapa.

Solaraza specialises in solar geysers, which cost between R12 000 and R16 000.
“People still have a lot of fishing around to do before switching to solar power, as there are different levels of products,” Spear said.

Ray Fernandez, national sales manager for Solahart, an importer which provides solar systems to 45 distributors countrywide, said sales had picked up over the past four months, “but definitely not as much as when we were battling with load-shedding.
According to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaics, or indirectly by focusing the sun’s energy to boil water, which is then used to provide power.

Eskom solar subsidy
Eskom has promised a subsidy to any household that switches to solar power.
“Home owners who purchase a solar system from an Eskom-accredited supplier will receive the rebate directly into their bank accounts after they have claimed it,” Eskom said in a statement.

This would be applicable only if the supplier was registered on Eskom’s programme, and if the installation was done by an installer registered with the supplier.

“When all the relevant documentation has been presented, it takes Eskom eight weeks to pay the rebate,” it said.

The power utility is also in the process of investigating the feasibility of concentrating solar power for South Africa.