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More than 2 600 families have received solar-powered geysers as part of government’s programme to create better living conditions for residents of the former Joe Slovo informal settlement in Cape Town.

The units have been fitted on 2 639 new homes which have been built in Joe Slovo 3A, 3B and 3C over the past 18 months to house former shack-dwellers. 

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale will launch the project, which is one of the first energy-efficiency initiatives in human settlements developments, on 11 April.

“Some of the residents are already using their solar-powered geysers, and the feedback has been very positive,” says Taffy Adler, CEO of the Housing Development Agency, which project manages the new Joe Slovo development.

“The houses have been specifically designed with their roofs sloping at the right angle to accommodate the water heating equipment. The panels absorb ultraviolet light and the system, which can store electricity, is designed to provide the households with an on-going supply of hot water even in winter.”

The project is being funded by DANIDA, the Danish government’s aid agency. As a country, Denmark has taken the lead in developing renewable energy technology and DANIDA has an interest in mainstreaming energy efficiency in low-income housing.

There are many advantages to solar hot water heating. For residents, solar heating means lower electricity bills. For many it also means a better quality of home life and better health as solar power replaces the need to use coal, wood or paraffin to heat hot water.

Expanded use of renewable energies such as solar takes the pressure off the overburdened public power grids operated by municipalities and Eskom. More broadly, the greater use of renewable energy translates to lower levels of carbon emissions.

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