Investigating the cost of large-scale solar thermal systems in SADC countries


Submitted by Mr Angelo Buckley
Published 3 years, 7 months ago

A study entitled “Investigation into the Costs of Large-Scale Solar Thermal Systems in SADC Countries”, authored by Mr Angelo Buckley and co-authored by Ms Karin Kritzinger and Prof Sampson Mamphweli from the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), Stellenbosch University, was submitted and presented at the Southern African Solar Energy Conference (SASEC) 2018 which was held in Durban, South Africa in late June.


The goal of the study was to investigate the variation of the specific costs in EURO/m2 installed of both thermosyphon and pumped type solar thermal systems in the partnering SADC countries of the Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (SOLTRAIN). These countries include South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The cost data of SOLTRAIN co-funding applications from 2010 to mid-2017 was made available by AEE-Intec to conduct the study. This included co-funding applications from SOLTRAIN phase 1, phase 2 and midway through phase 3. This data accounted for 92 solar thermal projects, which amounts to a total of 294 solar thermal systems which applied for co-funding from the six SADC partnering countries.

The study highlighted the following:

  • The average specific cost of pumped solar thermal systems ranged from approximately 470 to 1 000 EURO/m2 across five of the six countries, with Lesotho exhibiting the highest costs.
  • The average specific cost of thermosyphon systems ranged from approximately 500 to 700 EURO/m2 across four of the six countries, with South Africa presenting the highest costs.
  • The average specific cost of pumped and thermosyphon systems was 745 EURO/m2 and 613 EURO/m2, respectively, over the period from 2010 to mid-2017.

The study shows that there is a large variation in specific cost of both pumped and thermosyphon installations in the SADC countries in relation to the gross collector area installed and that this variation is noticeably larger for pumped systems in relation to that of thermosyphon systems. The results of this study were limited to the availability of application data, which, it is hoped, will be built upon with the progression of the SOLTRAIN project.

The findings of this study aim at providing clearer approximation of the average specific costs for particular solar thermal technologies attributed to each of the SADC countries, and also to investigate the behaviour of cost trends through the growth of the technology’s deployment within the SADC region.