Clean and Affordable Energy for Heating Water - Impacts and Feasibility of Solar Water Heaters in Lwandle, Cape Town

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Kulturgeografiska institutionen

Abstract:

In Cape Town, South Africa, households' acces to modern and clean energy services needs to be increased. However, use of coal-powered electricity stresses the environment and power cuts create an urgent need to reduce the demand. Solar water heaters (SWH) could enable increasing access and affordability of energy services in the townships without stressing the environment or increasing the demand for coal-powered electricity. However, it is an expensive solution and the majority of the city-level efforts still target the high-consuming households. The benefits for the poor households from using a SWH could though outweigh the high capital investements and meet the needs of the city's environmental management. The results from this study of 20 households showed that by having an affordable, clean and reliable source of energy for heating water, households were able to use more warm water for bathing and reduce their use of electricity and paraffin. This resulted in improvements in health and quality of life. Also, households' general spending on energy was reduced, which for some enabled an increase in income-generating activities. The use of solar-heated showers was found to be restricted by the issue of sharing and it is argued that the benefits would be greater if each households had their own solar water heater. The estimated increase in water use might raise questions of the solution's future feasibility. Despite this, it can be argued that the changes in the households' energy and water use are likely to result in significant improvements in the households' well-being which could also benefit the city as a whole.

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