The government has set regulations to guide dealers of solar water heaters in a bid to regulate the market and also protect consumers from unscrupulous firms.
Tough penalties have also been set for suppliers and technicians who fail to meet the minimum standards, a move which protects against dumping of substandard goods.
When passed, analysts say, the Solar Water Heating Regulations could support the government’s ambitious programme to install 12,000 quality solar water heaters countrywide — which should translate to a saving of 23,328MWh on the national grid by next year.
“These regulations are intended to provide a licensing and regulatory framework for the design, installations, operation, repair, maintenance and upgrade of solar water heating systems in Rwanda,” said the draft regulation issued by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura).
The regulation also sets minimum academic qualifications and professional requirements for technicians of solar water heaters in the country.
The regulatory agency of the power sector has also come up with tough penalties that range from Rwf10,000-Rwf5 million depending on the offence.
The government is running green energy campaigns in a bid to reduce the heavy dependency on thermal electricity with the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), which spends Rwf40 billion annually on thermal generators.
The government has introduced new subsidies to keep some electricity consumers off the main grid.
In addition to offering tax exemptions, the government is meeting 25 per cent of the cost of imported solar power water heaters. Each heater costs between Rwf800,000 and Rwf900,000 in the open market in Kigali.
EWSA targets households, commercial buildings and institutions to install the water heaters.
The government received a grant of Rwf3 billion from the Global Environmental Facility Trust Fund of World Bank/GEF for the Rwanda Sustainable Energy Development Project.
Another Rwf3.7 billion grant was sourced from the Nordic Development Fund to support the rollout of the solar water heaters.