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The Shisa Solar Programme is one of the Energy Office’s flagship projects. Together with the Strategic management of the Municipality and the Political leadership, the Energy Office realised that Durban has excellent solar resource potential (the city can boast an average of 300 days of sunshine per annum) and that this was not being exploited as it should be.
 
Nationally, the challenge of increasing uptake of solar water heaters (SWHs) was put forward by the Minister of Energy. In 2009 she stated that “the Department will ensure that one million SWHs are installed in households and commercial buildings over a five year period”. Though a commitment had been made nationally, it was unclear what role local governments would play in achieving this.
 
By registering on the Shisa Solar Programme website, a Durban resident wanting to ‘go solar’ can participate in the program by registering on the website. The resident enters their details onto a database which is then sent through to the pre-approved suppliers who will then contact the interested party and provide a no obligation quotation.
 
The quotations supplied to the home owner will be less the ESKOM rebate as well as a R500 Shisa Solar discount. So far over 4000 people have registered on the site, with the numbers increasing every day.
 
This simple intervention demonstrates how municipalities can play a facilitatory role by bridging the gap between supply and demand in a sector where their role is still unclear Municipalities can still achieve their imperative of growing the renewable energy sector without acting as the primary developer. However, the Municipality still had to invest significant resources into the project, publicising the project through various media channels and enlisting the services of state-of-the-art web designers.
 
So why would a South African resident want to install a Solar Water Heater?
Installing a Solar Water Heater can save you up to 30% on your electricity bill, with a payback period of about 5 years. After which, you will be receiving most of your hot water free of charge, made possible by our abundant resource, the sun! In a climate of energy scarcity and associated rising energy costs it makes financial sense. In addition, the environmentally conscious homeowner could make massive improvements to their own carbon footprint.