Why use solar energy to heat up water?
In the everlasting efforts of reducing energy costs and utilizing renewable energy sources, perhaps the most accessible, affordable and immediate solution are Solar Water Heating (SWH) systems.
Easily installed, modestly priced and with a quick return on investment, SWH systems are a logical, prudent and an environmentally friendly solution to high electric or gas bills.
Belize is an emerging economy that is growing rapidly in the fields of tourism, industry and the individuals’ quality of life. A blessed growth, yet viable only if backed by a strong governmental volition. Protection of resources, acceding environmentally sound practices, investment in talent – these are all necessary for a flourishing society and sustainable economic growth.
Currently, 47% of the energy consumed in Belize is fossil fuel based, emitting 605K tons of carbon dioxide, with the main industries – tourism, garment production, agriculture, construction, food processing- expected to maintain growth (over 2% in 2015) and increase energy consumption.
A testimonial to the benefits of SWH can be showcased in studying the Israeli model; declaring SWH mandatory since 1980 in any residential, commercial or industrial building that requires access to hot water, Israel has reduced roughly 5% of its energy consumption, reduced its CO2 footprint by 2.7 million tons, boast 4 billion kWh of yearly savings, or the equivalent of an entire 900 MW power station throughput. Truly remarkable feats. So much so, that many countries have followed this example (Australia, Belgium, Brazil) and many more are in the process of following suite (South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Chile, Uruguay, Germany, USA).
With the ample sun radiation that Belize enjoys (over 5 kWh / m2 / day), the vast majority of hot water demands can be supplied harnessing the suns energy. In the tourism sector, this can account for 27%-60% of a hotel’s energy consumption. In the agricultural or industrial sectors, this can account for 70%; and in the private sector, up to 100% of demand.
The benefits are inviolable:
 Energy cost reductions
 Improving environmental performance
 Raising awareness and increasing familiarity with renewable energy
 Creation of local employment and talent
And yet, there are some substantial detrimental factors to overcome:
 Financial barriers – ROI, cash flow available for initial expense
 Organizational decision making – environmentally sound objectives are not considered necessary; ‘fixed cost syndrome’ – energy costs are integrated in the business cash flow
 Incumbent technology – many have alternative solutions for heating water (gas, electric) and will not consider changing existing systems (SWH are compatible with existing technologies)
 Weak enabling policy environments for SWH – no governmental support or incentives to ‘go green’
 Reliability concerns, fragmented industry – small industry with limited selection
 Lack of awareness
There is much that can be achieved:
 Reduction of import tax for environmentally friendly and renewable energy products
 Green business tax incentives or deductions (i.e. a certain percentage of capital expenditures incurred for retrofitting green technologies), as in the Barbados model
 Lobby for GST reduction for the private sector
 Plan for a long term strategy of joining the increasing number of countries making SWH mandatory, in the industrial, commercial and eventually the resident sector (for certain building standards)
Our mission is to install high quality, technologically advanced and affordable products to the growing market. With a very reasonable ROI and system life expectancy over 10 years, it becomes a major energy cost reduction on a national scale. In addition, implementation of SWH systems induce a continuing shift to environmentally friendly products, such as solar photovoltaic power, grey water reuse for irrigation, low flow shower heads, etc. As more and more tourists expect use of renewable energy as part of the eco-tourism trend, escalating electricity and gas prices will drive the tourism, health, food production and consumer goods industries to seek viable energy cost savings.
Cut da lang bench shaut.
Thanks for listening
** the writer is owner of GreenSun, importer of Chromagen solar water heating systems and a keen environmentalist
more info at www.swhbelize.com