Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Janette Fitzsimons launches Government Scheme

"Some of you may be aware of concerns raised in the media recently about discolouration of solar heating panels from two suppliers.

This appears to be a fairly limited issue, but we are taking it seriously because it is important that consumer confidence in solar water heating is not undermined. We are advised by those two firms that there is no problem now with performance, but we have not had all the information that homeowners need from these suppliers to reassure them about the quality and longevity of those systems. At this point they are not participating in the Government solar water heating programme.

To provide further information for consumers on this issue, EECA expects to undertake independent testing of some discoloured solar panels to determine any impact on energy performance, and longevity.

My two key objectives in this programme are quality assurance and cost-effectiveness. We have taken a number of steps over the last year to improve these outcomes for consumers: there are now training courses available for solar installation at most polytechs, there is an NZ/Australian standard and we are performance modeling systems to be able to advise consumers how much energy they will save under standard conditions. Our new website provides a one stop shop for home owners wanting to know whether solar is right for their home and how to go about deciding what sort. It lists all suppliers who have been through the performance modeling process and qualify for the grants.

I believe we are on the way to ensuring a sustainable, larger scale solar water heating industry
and well informed building professionals and home owners."

Excerpt from the Speech by Janette Fitzsimons at Launch of Solar Water Heating Volume Build Scheme, Parliament Buildings, 25/07/2007
Gary Moller comments:
First of all, I do not think Janette is being entirely sincere when she says that the problem is a "fairly limited issue". I am sure she has read the Branz reports and she sure should be aware of this website (rustypanels) because I have been letting her office know about it.

I think it has been just a tad unfair as well and misleading to have singled out two players in the industry and to also do so without mentioning names because this reflects poorly on the ones out there that are doing OK. It would appear that the problems referred to, including poor installation as documented in the Branz reports (copies available for viewing on this website here) are widespread and not just limited to two operators. Why pick on just two?

Her comments conveniently avoid the issue of what is to be done, if anything for the thousands of New Zealand families and businesses who are now facing ongoing performance problems and costs with their solar water heating systems that they installed with the encouragement of the Green Party. So far, there have been no answers forthcoming. The good New Zealanders (including me) who voted her in have been left out in the cold.

While it is encouraging to learn that there will be some proper performance testing done, the results will be several months away. The question must be asked: "Where is the evidence that the solar water heating systems being installed between now and then are any better than the ones of yesterday?" There is none. Should the Government be spending public money on a technology that has yet to prove its durability? Is it not misleading the public?

Note: To be fair and responsible; responses by all to these articles are welcomed and will be published.

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