Zimbabwe Eyes More Solar Water Heaters As Power Grid Struggles
- Aug 4, 2022 2:37 pm GMT
Rooftop water heaters provide free hot baths even during power blackouts - though installation costs remain a barrier
- Rooftop solar water heaters now required on new homes
- Electricity blackouts driving search for energy savings
- Upfront costs a barrier but heaters are cheaper long-term
When the 48-year-old built his house in the southern African nation three years ago, he had to include a rooftop solar water heater to comply with a 2019 law that banned the installation of electric heaters in buildings.
While the father-of-five said the 150-litre-capacity heater - which directly absorbs the sun's warmth to heat water - was expensive, at the equivalent of about
"Once the water is heated in the solar geyser, it takes two days before it cools down," Ndlovu told the
"Warm water never runs out. I can have a hot bath even in the middle of the night," added Ndlovu, who has installed three solar panels as well to power his lights, television, stove and refrigerator.
Lawrence Mashungu, a climate change expert at the ministry of environment, water and climate, said the government was not offering funds for people to install solar heaters but "was providing advice" about their cost-saving merits.
"Already, most new housing developments have adopted solar water heaters, which is very positive," she said in an interview.
The nation has a target of installing at least 250,000 solar water heaters in old and new buildings by 2030. The government said it had no data on how many were in place currently.
Under the 2019 law, new buildings that do not have solar water heaters cannot be connected to the grid, and offenders can face a fine and up to a year in prison.
Coal plants and imported power from
But renewable power also has a role to play, with the government having vowed to cut its energy-related emissions by about a third by 2030, mainly by boosting investment in hydropower and solar power.
It has set a target to generate at least 2,100 MW of clean energy by the end of the decade, of which 75% would come from solar, according to the country's 2019 renewable energy policy.
Import duties have been removed from solar-energy-related projects, while Magombo said the government was supporting local manufacturing of heat-absorbing rooftop water heaters and promoting their benefits.
Ultimately, the use of the technology should reduce household energy consumption by 20-40%, the official added.
The government also said last month it is implementing a net metering system, whereby people whose homes have rooftop solar panels can sell their excess energy to the national grid.
"For under-served communities with no previous access to warm water except by heating water in pots, this technology is life-changing," he said.
"(There is) only a cost at the implementation stage, but thereafter it is a lifetime benefit," said
Pelandaba West resident and civil servant Nhlalwenhle Mqhawana said she had not been able to afford her
But the 39-year-old said her family had since saved about
But the power cuts are of no concern to Ndlovu's family.
"My household doesn't know what load shedding is because my entire home is connected to a powerful solar system which is running the refrigerator, television and the stove," he said.
(Reporting by Lungelo Ndhlovu, Editing by
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