Stellenbosch University Team Upgrading Solar Electricity


sustainable_solar_powerA team from one of South Africa’s top universities Stellenbosch, has come up with a way to generate affordable solar electricity using a limited array of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy.  This is something that leading engineers around the country have battled with for a number of years. The team has found a way to reduce the costs of solar power generation, something that most have regarded as impossible to achieve.

The team are behind the Helio100 project based Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), with the prototype due to be finished in October. According to the institution’s official website, “The Solar Thermal Energy Research Group (STERG) at Stellenbosch University has been developing a unique South African CSP technology. CSP is able to provide dispatchable, clean energy at utility scale, with the added benefit of high localisation potential and socio-economic beneficiation.”

South Africa founding director of the Solar Thermal Research Group at Stellenbosch University, Paul Gauche, who is responsible for the testing of this new approach- has been working closely with the team and expressed how the team was a collaboration of top engineers and how proud he was to have worked with them.  “We are developing plonkable heliostats. Plonkable means that from factory to installation you can just drop them down on to the ground and they work,” he said.

Another young technologist from the Eastern Cape who has been working with the team, Athi Ntisana, believes that this is the most efficient electricity system. “It requires labour, components can be manufactured here in the country and we have land here where sunlight is abundant – and that’s also where there is not much employment. It solves all these problems,” he added.

Any form of technology that will improve the lives of the masses is exciting and this one certainly looks promising.  Shortage of electricity remains one of the biggest problems in our continent and such an initiative gives us so much hope!