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Solar Water Heating Industry Newsletter

Solar Water Heating Industry Newsletter

A newsletter for building professionals and others interested in developments within the New Zealand solar water heating industry. The newsletter is prepared when we feel that we have something to say but probably on a quarterly basis. You have been sent a copy as you have indicated a professional interest in solar water heating, or your name has come to our attention through industry activities. Please advise us if you do not wish to receive future editions.

Notes from the Chair of the Solar Industries Association

With the end of the electricity market hydro storage shortage, and the Government funded trial promotion of solar water heating, the industry has moved to a new level of capability. The interest in solar water heating systems is now higher than at any time since the 1980’s.

It is estimated that the annual number of systems being installed has doubled over the last year and the growth is continuing. A number of suppliers have increased the size of their operations. NZ based manufacturers have doubled their production capacity. We are getting closer to achieving the industry target of 10,000 installations per year?

With this growth the industry has to be mindful that quality installations are essential and that we have to ensure that suitably experienced installers are undertaking the installations. The Solar Industries Association and EECA have jointly established a Code of Practice and an industry accreditation system. We need to ensure that these, along with a Certificate for SWH Installation course that is currently being developed, underpin the quality system of every supplier and installer.

During the coming year the Association and EECA will be continuing to consolidate the industry capabilities and expand the number of installations of SWH to large volume hot water applications such as rest-homes, motels and institutional facilities.

The continued growth of solar water heating requires active interest from potential installers, architects, building services engineers and other building professionals.

Cheers Nick Williamson Chairman Solar Industries Association

EECA funded incentive programme EECA has funded implementation of the SIA Action Plan activities aimed at encouraging capacity building and growth of the SWH industry. This has been supported in early 2003 by the $120,000 EnergyWise SWH Grants Scheme, a trial tender scheme. SWH suppliers and
other parties bid for portions of the fund, to help them offer discounts, interest-free loans or other ways to make the systems more affordable. It provided support for 5 solar water heating projects, amounting to 225 new systems. A further $200,000 has been announced to encourage the uptake of solar water heating in 2003/2004. How this second incentive package will be spent has yet to be determined.

Policies to promote renewable energy are also being implemented as part of the Government’s Climate Change Policy Package released in October 2002. Unlike many other mitigation proposals, SWH can make an immediate approximate 1kg/kWh contribution to CO2 reduction (assuming that the water would otherwise be heated by thermally generated electricity).

Objectives for the coming year The SIA has confirmed its priorities in its Action Plan for the coming year and these are based around three activity areas; Industry capability Mass residential installations Large volume hot water applications

The SIA activities have been based around responding to the Government’s support for SWH outlined in the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, and in particular achievement of the Renewable Energy Target.

The SIA strategy is to strengthen the quality based industry, building on sales to the residential mass market to assist members grow their business activities and systems, leading to achievement of large volume hot water commercial/industrial installations. A key component to the strategy is to secure installations on facilities owned by government agencies (Housing NZ, Dept of Corrections, hospitals etc).

The Action Plan outlines a systematic programme of activities that relate to: Improving the performance of the Association and the industry Confirming manufacturing and installation quality standards for the industry. Improving the national perception of the cost of solar water heating through education of potential buyers, architects, builders and plumbers, Creating an enthusiasm for solar water heating by picking high profile initiatives, Preparation of common promotion material and establishment of national marketing programme that supports individual member marketing initiatives.

The first year of the Action Plan (2002) focused on quality issues. SIA and EECA jointly established a Code of Practice which confirmed the manufacturing and installation standards to be adopted for New Zealand. A supplier accreditation programme to further assist with identification of quality has also been established. The actions programmed until March 2003 were substantially achieved and these are now being built on.

The second year of the Action Plan (2003) is focused on strengthening the knowledge and experience of building professionals while commencing residential mass market promotion to increase the throughput for suppliers. A key aspect will be the integration of promotion with on-going training programmes and other activities with building professionals during 2003.

Having established quality systems and improved the knowledge and skills of building professionals during the first two years of the programme. The third year of the programme (2004) will be the focus of promotion programmes and achievement of large volume hot water applications. Growth of accredited suppliers The following accredited suppliers have advised that they have been expanding their operations. A snap shot of some activities includes the following;

Solar 60 have reorganised their factory to double panel production and are now turning out 80 panels per month.

Reid Technology advise that extra sales staff have been taken on to allow greater support to be given to Beasley Solar system installers. Beasley Solar have also developed a new stainless cylinder that can run at 50C and will resist bacterial growth.

Synergex Systems New Zealand have reported a dramatic increase in demand for Solahart products during the first 6 Months of 2003. Managing Director Nick Schofield has explained "At last the policies contained in the National Energy Efficiency And Conservation Strategy are starting to filter through into the market place. This coupled with the recent Energy crises has more than doubled consumer demand. As an example we were fortunate enough to obtain E.E.C.A. funding for the promotion of Solar hot water heating. This programme was originally planned to run for 4 Months but was oversubscribed within 6 weeks. In addition to this we have completed several large projects for National and Local Government organisations for both swimming pool heating and Solar hot water"

Sunz have now expanded their product range by adding heat exchangers for the pool and underfloor heating market.

SolarTech advise that their project with EECA has been extremely successful particulaly with regard to pushing SWH into new customer groups and the interest level has continued for their Edwards systems since the programme finished.

Thermocell have had to make major changes to the organisation of their panel production in order to meet increased interest in their product. These have included a significant increase in plant capacity, the employment of more factory staff, and the introduction of three more dealer/installers outside of Christchurch. Thermocell have also been involved with the development of a solar/gas/electric combination hot water system and a heat pump backup for solar. The inclusion of Thermocell's HeatSheet solar panels on the recently completed Punakiki Villas hotel on the West Coast shows the viability of solar for the hotel market especially with the rise in EcoTourism.

Wellwind Energy have recently had to take on extra help to cope with the increase in business they are experiencing.

Sensible Heat have applied for accreditation.

Code of Practice The Code of Practice for Manufacture and Installation of SWH Systems is currently being reviewed with assistance of a Reference Group consisting of representatives from Building Research Association (BRANZ), Building Industry Authority (BIA), Master Plumbers Association, EECA, Standards NZ, SIA. SIA has two supplier representatives on the Reference Group. A key aspect being considered is the requirements for strengthening structures to take the loading of hot storage cylinders on roofs. The revised version will be put on the website on 18 June.

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