So­lar water-heater mar­ket hot for ex­ploita­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter jo­van.john­son@glean­erjm.com

A SO­LAR water-heat­ing mar­ket wait­ing for ex­ploita­tion is an op­por­tu­nity knock­ing on the door of Caribbean coun­tries, par­tic­i­pants at the just-con­cluded Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Caribbean Util­ity Reg­u­la­tors an­nual con­fer­ence were told.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Dr Xavier Le­maire, the au­thor­i­ties have to es­tab­lish proper reg­u­la­tory frame­work for the devel­op­ment of the so­lar water-heater in­dus­try in the re­gion, sim­i­lar to the way in which Tu­nisia and, more re­cently, Bar­ba­dos have done it.

The se­nior re­search as­so­ciate at the Univer­sity Col­lege London (UCL) En­ergy In­sti­tute in the United King­dom said the op­por­tu­ni­ties are based on the high lev­els of in­so­la­tion and ur­ban­i­sa­tion in Caribbean na­tions.

In­so­la­tion ba­si­cally refers to the amount of sun­light a place such as Ja­maica gets. Ja­maica gets up to a max­i­mum of 13.2 hours of sun­shine per day and a min­i­mum of 11 hours, ac­cord­ing to the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vice of Ja­maica.

“Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties can be tar­geted with so­lar heat­ing, par­tic­u­larly health cen­tres and schools. Com­mu­ni­ties that pre­dom­i­nantly use elec­tric­ity for meet­ing their water-heat­ing en­ergy de­mand stand to make con­sid­er­able sav­ings over time from switch­ing,” Le­maire added.

POL­ICY SUP­PORT

He said the pol­icy sup­port would come from both Govern­ment and reg­u­la­tors who would op­er­ate on the sup­ply side by pro­vid­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion for prod­ucts and li­cens­ing for com­pa­nies, which would fa­cil­i­tate con­sumer con­fi­dence in the use of the tech­nol­ogy.

Tax in­cen­tives can be used ei­ther to in­cen­tivise indige­nous pro­duc­tion or im­prove ac­cess to im­ported so­lar wa­ter­heater equip­ment, which, he said, would al­low the tech­nol­ogy to com­pete in the mar­ket more ef­fec­tively. Manda­tory pur­chas­ing reg­u­la­tions from gov­ern­ments can also sig­nif­i­cantly stim­u­late mar­kets.

Com­mu­ni­ties that pre­dom­i­nantly use elec­tric­ity for meet­ing their water-heat­ing en­ergy de­mand stand to make con­sid­er­able sav­ings over time from switch­ing.

REG­U­LA­TION

Le­maire said it is im­por­tant to tar­get reg­u­la­tion from early in the mar­ket­de­vel­op­ment stage.

In the case of Tu­nisia, the UCL re­searcher said while noth­ing much hap­pened in phase one of the process, which in­cluded re­plac­ing gas as fuel for heat­ing water, the mar­ket took off in phase two.

That phase, from 2005- 2010, was char­ac­terised by con­sumers be­ing al­lowed to buy so­lar water heaters and pay­ing back over long pe­ri­ods, mainly through elec­tric­ity bills that in­curred lit­tle risk to banks and the util­ity provider.

The Ja­maican Govern­ment, through its Of­fice of Util­i­ties Reg­u­la­tion, had, up to last year, an­nounced re­quests for pro­pos­als for the pro­vi­sion of en­ergy from re­new­ables such as so­lar to the na­tional grid. The Govern­ment has also pro­vided tax in­cen­tives for so­lar bat­ter­ies.

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