A value chain analysis of the solar water heater industry in the Western Cape : investigating opportunities for local economic development, poverty alleviation and energy conservation

Du Toit, Hendrik Jacobus (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2010-12)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Low-income households in the Western Cape primarily use small electrical kettles to heat water for bathing and cleaning. This energy usage pattern is problematic in that; • It is based on unsustainable energy sources that cause environmental degradation, • Electricity is becoming more expensive in South Africa which strains the limited income of poorer households and • The national utility, Eskom, is struggling to meet the demand for electricity. If energy-intensive development paths are followed these problems will escalate further. Solar water heating offers a synergic (Max-Neef 1991), if partial, solution for the situation. By decoupling hot water usage from increased electricity usage, solar water heaters (SWHs) can reduce electricity demand and thus environmental degradation. The large quantities of hot water (relative to electrical kettles) that they provide also fulfil a developmental service by improving quality of life and personal health. The manufacturing and installation of solar water heaters could serve as a further catalyst for development by providing opportunities for economic development. Unfortunately the high capital cost of SWHs remains a barrier to the rollout of the technology in lower income groups. The objective of this thesis is to contribute to the elimination of this barrier through providing insight into; the hot water requirements of low-income households, the potential electricity and carbon emission savings that solar water heaters present, and the cost drivers and job creation potential of the solar water heating value chain. The research hypothesis is that: Solar water heaters (SWHs) are a potential synergic satisfier to achieve sustainable development in low income communities by providing an improved energy service, reducing environmental degradation and creating employment opportunities. The high price of the technology makes intervention in the form of subsidies and/or regulation from the appropriate level(s) of government critical for the realisation of this potential. The methodology used to test the hypothesis is quantitative and qualitative in nature with data obtained through a survey of 90 low-income households in Stellenbosch, a behavioural study of two households wherein solar water heaters were installed and a value chain analysis of the SWH industry in the Western Cape. The key findings of the research include that, SWHs offer a real improvement in quality of life for low-income households and that they reduce electricity consumption relative to a level of development. The key barrier to cost reductions in the solar water heating industry is found to be the small size of the industry which leads to an inability to source material, especially copper, at competitive prices. It is proposed that government sponsored rollout programs could alleviate this barrier, leading to the development of a robust industry. Job creation potential is found to be relatively small but a suggested rollout programme for SWHs in the Western Cape shows that the benefits of the technology can be realised and several thousand jobs created in a fiscally prudent manner. The thesis is focuses on households from LSM categories 5-8 in the Western Cape Province. Stellenbosch Municipality is used as a specific case study area.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Lae-inkomste huishoudings in die Wes-Kaap gebruik klein elektriese ketels as hul primêre water verhittingstoestel vir bad en skoonmaak aktiwiteite. Hierdie energie verbruik patroon is problematies in dat; • Dit gebaseer is op onvolhoubare energie bronne wat skadelik is vir die omgewing, • Elektrisiteit duurder word in suid afrika, en sodoende druk plaas op die beperkete inkomste van armer huishoudings en • Die nasionale elektrisiteitsdiensverskaffer, eskom, sukkel om te voldoen aan die vraag vir elektrisiteit. As energie-intensiewe ontwikkelings paaie gevolg word sal hierdie probleme verder vererger. Son water verhitting bied 'n sinergiese (Max-Neef 1991), dog gedeeltelike, oplossing vir die situasie. Deur warm water verbruik te ontkoppel van toenemende elektrisiteitsverbruik kan son water verwarmers (SWVs) die vraag na elektrisiteit en dus omgewingskade verminder. Die groot hoeveelhede warm water (relatief tot 'n elektriese ketel) wat die toestelle voorsien vervul ook 'n ontwikkelingsdiens deur verbeterde lewenskwaliteit en persoonlike gesondheid mee te bring. Die vervaardiging en installeering van SWVs kan dien as 'n verdere katalisator vir ontwikkeling deur geleenthede vir ekonomiese ontwikkeling te skep. Ongelukkig bly die hoë kapitaal koste van SWVs 'n struikelblok tot die verspreiding van die tegnologie in lae inkomste groepe. Die doelwit van hierdie tesis is om by te dra tot die verwydering van hierdie struikelblok deur insig te gee oor; die warm water benodigheid in lae-inkomste huishoudings, die potensiële elektrisiteit-en koolstofbesparings wat SWVs inhou, en die koste drywers en werkskepping potensiaal van die sonwaterverwarmer waarde ketting. Die navorsingshipotese is dat: Son water verwarmers 'n potensiële sinergiese bevrediger is vir die bereik van volhoubare ontwikkeling in lae-inkomse gemeenskappe deurdat dit 'n verbeterde energie diens voorsien, omgewingskade verminder en werksgeleenthede skep. Die hoë prys van die tegnologie verorsaak dat ingryping deur die toepaslike vlak(ke) van regering, deur middel van subsidies en/of regulasie, benodig word om die potensiaal daarvan te verwesenlik. Die metodologie wat gebruik word om die hipotese te toets is kwantitatief en kwalitatief van aard met data wat verkry word deur 'n opname onder 90 lae-inkomste huishoudings in Stellenbosch, 'n gedragstudie van twee huishoudings waarin SWVs geinstalleer is en 'n waardekettinganalise van die SWV industrie in die Wes-Kaap. Die sleutel gevolgtrekkings van die navorsing sluit in dat, sonwaterverwarmers 'n werklike verbetering in die kwaliteit van lewe van lae-inkomste huishoudings meebring en dat hulle elektrisiteitsverbruik relatief tot 'n vlak van ontwikkeling verminder. Die hoof struikelblok tot koste verminderings in die SWV industrie word gevind in die klein grootte van die industrie wat lei tot die onvermoë om materiaal, veral koper, teen kompeterende pryse aan te koop. Dit word voorgestel dat regeringsondersteunde verspreidingsprogramme hierdie struikelblok kan verwyder en dat dit sal lei tot die ontwikkeling van 'n gesonde industrie. Werkskeppingspotensiaal word gevind om relatief klein te wees, maar 'n voorgestelde verspreidings program vir SWVs in die Wes-Kaap wys dat die voordele van SWVs gerealiseer kan word en etlike duisend werksgeleenthede geskep kan word op 'n finansieel verantwoordelike wyse. Die tesis fokus op huishoudings in die LSM kategorieë 5-8 in die Wes-Kaap provinsie. Stellenbosch munisipaliteit word gebruik as n spesifieke gevallestudie area.

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2010.

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