Specialising in
Grey Water
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Water will be SA growth restraint

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 November 2010

The dire water shortage in the Karoo provided a stark backdrop for international experts meeting in Stellenbosch on sustainable development and how to achieve economic growth on a planet whose natural resources are stretched to the limit.

98% of all SA water is allocated, and 35% of all arable soil is degraded.

“Three resources are at their limits and are already undermining growth in SA,” said Mark Swilling, academic director of the Sustainability Institute, a non-profit trust working in partnership with Stellenbosch University, listing them as water, coal and arable land.

Swilling is a member of the resource panel of scientists set up by the UN Environment Programme three years ago to find ways of “decoupling” economic growth from depletion of natural resources.

He told panel members who met in Stellenbosch this week that SA’s case was typical of problems African countries faced; “98% of all our water is allocated, and in the past economic growth rates have been tracked by water use rates. If we don’t decouple, our water resource becomes a restraint on growth.”

Swilling said SA’s coal reserves, once said to top 50billion tons, were now put by some researchers at closer to 10billion tons. “We may have already hit peak production so coal, which has been such a key resource, is a major constraint.

“Then soil – we have 14million hectares of arable soil, but 5million hectares are degraded. We’ve got to attend to the question of soil degradation.” Continue reading Water will be SA growth restraint

12 point checklist to buying a solar geyser

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 29 October 2010

When purchasing a solar water heating system consider the following 12 points, and evaluate each one before committing to a system.

Yes Solar installation - evacuated tubes

1. Certification – what kind of certification does the system have? First prize is SABS Mark Approval. This is a higher form of certification than just an SABS Test Report. Mark Approval means that the entire supply chain of the product has been inspected and that SABS are confident that the product will consistently meet their standards.

2. Also look out for Solar Keymark certification (EU), and the German TUV standard.

3. Direct versus Indirect systems – basically, if you live near the coast you can install a direct system (no intermediate heat transfer fluid), but if you live somewhere that is prone to frost (i.e. temperatures drop below 4 deg), then you have to go for an indirect system. Where possible, go for a direct system, the heat loss between panel and geyser is lower.

4. Evacuated Tube versus Flat Plate collector – the respective suppliers / manufacturers of these systems place too much emphasis on this question. Rather look at the build quality, efficiency and durability of the collector, regardless of the type of technology it employs. Pay special attention to corrosion resistance – low quality stainless steel and shoddily galvanized metals will start to rust after a couple of years.

5. A quick way to measure efficiency is to look at the rebate a system enjoys. The rebate is simply a multiple of the Q factor of the system (which is a measure of its efficiency). But be careful to compare systems of the same size, e.g. a 200 litre system with a 200 litre system. Continue reading 12 point checklist to buying a solar geyser

The age of cheap electricity is at an end

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 10 October 2010

The age of cheap electricity in South Africa is at an end. It may pay to consider alternative and renewable energy sources – or to invest in methods of increasing energy efficiency.

Soar water heating - evacuated tubes on frame

Unfortunately, there are several factors working against an easy transition from the Eskom grid to your own little energy island.

Sustainable and renewable energy engineer Frank Spencer, CEO of Emergent Energy, said the immediate problem is that we are in a transition period from cheap to more expensive electricity.

“Our electricity is still too inexpensive to drive behaviour change, but that will change. In addition, our houses are built so poorly that we use a lot of energy to run them, such as poor insulation on geysers, pipes and ceilings, and energy-inefficient appliances,” Spencer said.

“Houses are optimised for upfront costs, not running costs. As with almost every industry, life-cycle costs are seldom considered.”

Getting the best advice on investments in alternative energy sources is not easy, said Spencer. “Most companies are looking to sell some product, which makes it very difficult to get independent advice. Further, there is no reputable accreditation body that I am aware of.” Continue reading The age of cheap electricity is at an end

Roll-out of 100000 solar water heaters resumes

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 15 September 2010

Three ground-breaking renewable energy projects earmarked for Nelson Mandela Bay with a combined investment value of more than R1-billion are on track, with at least one to start being implemented before the end of the year, top project officials have revealed.

Solar hot water. Evacuated tube installation.

They include the resumed roll- out of up to 100000 solar water heaters (high-pressure solar-powered geysers) to residents after the R900-million project was put on ice in June, as well as a proposed wind farm at Van Stadens consisting of up to 15 giant wind turbines, and methane gas harvesting facilities at the Arlington or Koedoeskloof waste disposal sites.

Because the three projects are being funded by ETA Energy Ltd – a subsidiary of parastatal the Central Energy Fund (CEF) – they are on track and unaffected by the Bay municipality’s cash-flow problems which has seen many infrastructure projects halted.

The three projects will see the metro catapulted to the forefront of attempts by cities around the country to minimise their dependence on energy provider Eskom and its steep annual price increases by “going green”. Continue reading Roll-out of 100000 solar water heaters resumes

Solar Water Heating – Split Systems

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 08 September 2010

Unlike a Thermosyphen System that is normally a complete on-roof hot water system; a Split System uses a pump to move a glycol liquid through the collectors and into the heat exchanger of the storage tank, where the heated, pumped glycol […]