South Africa: 2009 Study of the Solar Water Heater Market
 South Africa: 2009 Study of the Solar Water Heater Market

Large-scale solar thermal system

South Africa: 2009 Study of the Solar Water Heater Market

 Large-scale solar thermal system” Commercial systems are gaining importance in South Africa: A recent market survey by national energy provider Eskom estimates that 15% of the installed collector area in 2009 were part of large-scale solar thermal systems.
Photo: Solar Beam

In 2008, the solar water heater industry in South Africa experienced a major increase in its newly installed collector area: It was the peak year with 30,000 m2 for solar heating and cooling, prompted by power shortages in the national grid during the first two months of that year. Some market players noted an increase in sales of up to 400 % during the entire first four months of 2008, not only because of continuous black-outs, but also due to the marketing efforts by Eskom and the Central Energy Fund (CEF).

These are some, but not all of the results the study “”The South African Solar Water Heater Industry” by national energy provider Eskom Distribution outlined in August 2009 (see attached document). This report analysed the input from 39 suppliers, in order to deliver a comprehensive overview of the market situation and recommend requirements for successful large-scale SWH promotion schemes in South Africa.

 Installed collector area” Showing the development of the solar heating market since 1990: Vacuum tube collectors reached a 10% share in 2009. The total collector area installed in 2008 peaked at 30,000 m2.
Source: Study by Eskom

Other market data from the survey in brief:

  • The dominating technology on the market is the thermosiphon system with a 200 litre tank and an overall share of 68%.
  • Vacuum tube collectors have a small but growing share in the market, up from 1% in 2007 to an estimated 11% in 2009.
  • Local manufacturers covered about 60% of the South African market in 2008. Solar thermal systems imported from Germany, Greece, China and Israel therefore increased their own share from 23% in 2007 to 40% the year after.
  • As for the maximum of available production capacity in the industry, manufacturers and importers together are able to supply approximately 200,000m² annually.
  • The local industry currently employs around 700 people. The study lists 400 installers as permanently employed staff and a number of plumbers who operate independently on the market.

All in all, the South African market seems to be on the right track. The latest edition of the study proposes measures and names factors that would stimulate a constant growth on the market, especially when it comes to large-scale solar thermal systems. The industry wants a “long term support programme” with a “massive consumer marketing campaign” and sufficient lead times of at least one year.

More information:

Text was written by communication specialist Hanna Schober.


Baerbel Epp

Bärbel Epp is Founder and Director of the German communication and market research agency solrico and editor-in-chief of