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Solar Water Heating Industry Newsletter

30 March 2004

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

This newsletter reports on the growth of SWH installations that is now been consistently occurring for the last two years. The 23% growth during 2003 lifted to 55% during 2004 and appears to be continuing at this rate. The growth has specifically occurred when solar water heating has been strongly promoted, or when there has been significant newspaper articles on the benefits of solar water heating.

The continuous growth in the number of installations reinforces the view common with the public that solar water heating is becoming a mainstream energy source and no longer alternative.

The growth in SWH also reflects on the support that Government has provided the industry over the last two years. The partnership between SIA and EECA has resulted in substantial achievements such as the introduction of an accreditation system, a Code of Practice, and the production of instructive information on SWH.

Interest in solar water heating is also increasing into new markets. In small commercial applications such as rest homes and motor camps solar energy is being used as a preheater for conventional water heating systems. Solar is also now being coupled with instantaneous gas booster systems to provide guaranteed hot water supply.

The next major step is to follow the lead being given by a number of Australian states where solar water heating is now mandatory for all new houses.

Cheers Roy Netzer Chairman Solar Industries Association

Solar – smarter The industry has adopted a promotion strategy based on the theme that using solar energy for heating water as being smart. The solar –smarter campaign commenced in February and has been very effective in increasing the number of contacts that suppliers are getting from the public. Industry Growth The number of SWH installations is reported monthly by suppliers. Analysis of this data shows that during the year 2002 the growth of collector area installed increased by 23% over the previous year. Over 2003 the number of installations increased further by around 55% and indications are that it is continuing at this level.

Government Funding During the 2002/3 financial year EECA provided an estimated quarter of a million dollar to grow the SWH industry. This money was used to undertake the following; Management of the Association Establishment of the supplier accreditation scheme Preparation of the Code of Practice Funding a pilot bid-in incentive programme Market survey Promotion with plumbers General SWH promotion It is estimated that during the current financial year EECA will provide around $500,000 to the SWH industry. This is significantly more than is provided to any other renewable energy sector.

EECA funded SWH loans finance programme During April – June 2003 EECA undertook a pilot bid-in programme and funded successful SWH suppliers for five different incentive schemes. A total of $120,000 was provided by EECA and each supplier ran their own incentive scheme. Three of the schemes were based on free interest loans while the other two were specific community based.

The pilot programme provided a lot of useful information on such schemes and was used to develop a future programme currently underway.

Currently EECA is making $200,000 available to assist with the equivalent of the first year’s interest for purchasers of SWH systems who take out a loan to finance an installation. There are eight accredited suppliers providing loans and the scheme runs until the end of June 2004.

Building Consents SIA has been investigating how to standardise and limit the requirements for building consents. Currently the requirements and cost for building consents varies throughout the country. In some cases they can add about 10% to the cost of the system. If you are aware of a Council that has good procedures and an acceptable fee mechanism could advise the SIA Executive Officer. We would like role models that can be promoted to other Councils. SIA would also like to know of Councils at the other extreme so that we can work with them to see if they can reduce costs and other requirements.

Solar Water Heating Training Discussions are still underway with the Waikato Institute of Technology on the establishment of a training course leading to a Certificate for SWH Installation. It is hoped that the course will be available by mid 2004.

Code of Practice The Code of Practice for Manufacture and Installation of SWH Systems available from the website is again being revised. The Code is a continually evolving document and SIA welcomes comment on its adequacy and its usefulness. Discussions have also commenced on how the Code could integrate with the Australian/New Zealand Technical Standards.

All installers of SWH systems are expected to use the Code to ensure that they are aware of installation requirements expected by the industry.

Re accreditation of Solar Water Heating Suppliers All previously accredited suppliers were required to renew their accreditation at the end of 2003. This was completed and with the accreditation of one additional supplier there are now 10 accredited suppliers. Building professionals and the public are reminded to deal only with accredited SWH suppliers. You should look for this logo on accredited supplier’s promotion material.

Accredited suppliers are also now required to list their approved installers. These installers are covered by the supplier’s accreditation and the supplier is required to ensure that they are trained and competent to install the supplier’s product.

Proposed Building Bill SIA has supported the proposed amendments to the Building Act as the SIA accreditation scheme appears to be able to slot into the proposed licensing of building practitioners. Of particular importance also is the introduction of sustainability into building design. Solar water heating systems would be an acceptable solution for meeting the sustainability criteria.

SIA Website a Hit The SIA website has proven to be very acceptable to the public for receiving information on SWH including a checklist of what to expect from accredited SWH suppliers. The website has an average 40-80 visits per day during January and February which is twice the number of visits for the similar period last year. This is pleasing as it the main means of providing information on SWH to potential purchasers and building professionals

ENDS

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