East London, South Africa – A R10 million solar thermal plate manufacturing plant opened in the Eastern Cape could go a long way in addressing power shortages in the province.
Opening the Ikhwezi Solar Energy plant in East London on Thursday, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said government was looking into Solar Water Heating (SWH) as a means of supplying hot water to under-served communities, especially in rural areas.
“We are also looking into this technology to address demand-side management, so that the middle and upper income residential segment can reduce their own consumption of electricity,” said Peters.
She said her department was ready to work with other companies like Ikhwezi to support the development of the green economy.
“If Ikhwezi Solar’s technology is available at a reasonable price, there is a huge market out there, not only in the Eastern Cape, but throughout the country. I believe that competition is minimal and I challenge other companies to do the same,” said Peters.
Ikhwezi Executive Director Pieter Bosch said the plant would be contributing to government’s goal of one million solar heaters operating in the country by 2014.
“The opening of the plant couldn’t come at a better time considering the focus on green energy for future demands and the power challenges currently facing the country,” said Bosch.
The plant was designed using green building principles, including natural lighting systems for the factory floor, with water requirements being met by a 20 000 litre rainwater harvesting system.
Ikhwezi Group chairman Kali Mabentsela said the system produced by the company is the first next-generation solar energy collector to be produced locally.
The first system produced by the company will be installed on the roof of the Life Healthcare St Dominic’s Hospital. It will heat approximately 7 500 litres of water, which will be fed into the hospital’s hot water demand tanks and circulation system.
He said the opening of the plant created 23 new jobs, and has the potential to create a further 480 jobs for the installation of hot water systems.
Ikhwezi Solar’s target market includes installers, distributors, wholesalers, and industrial and commercial clients. –
Source – BuaNews – October 28, 2011