SOLTRAIN supports solar thermal decision makers

South Africa

Submitted by Karen Surridge
Published 2 years, 9 months ago

In keeping with some of SOLTRAIN's key focus areas, and specifically the strengthening of institutional structures which can offer expert advice, training and technical support on solar thermal technology, one of SOLTRAIN's South African partners, SANEDI hosted a half day of 'decision makers' seminar on solar water heating  operating at different scales, followed by a half a day site visit to an installation comprising 1 500 litres of storage, heat pump backup and 30m2 of solar collector area at a military base in Hoedspruit.  The target audience for this seminar was the military decision makers within the Department of Defence (DoD) as well as the tourism and hospitality service providers from Limpopo province.


      The second part dealt with the economic and investment aspects and included:
      Efficiency curves and user profiles
      Simulation software as a decision assistance tool
      Expected capital expenditure (CAPEX) on different systems
      Expected operational expenditure (OPEX) in relation to durability, repair and maintenance, tariffs, return on investment (ROI)
      Payback period prediction.
      Dr Karen Surridge from SANEDI presented both parts of the seminar using the Hoedspruit installation and its performance as a practical case study for the latter.

      In discussion after the presentations, it emerged that the security of supply that solar thermal can provide is what most participants would regard as being their primary driver to invest in solar thermal technologies, specifically in a country that is under the continuous threat from loadshedding.

      Since observing the benefit of investing in solar thermal energy, the the DoD has begun plans for further investment and many of the workshop participants indicated that they would be pursuing the same plans of shifting their thermal reliance to the sun rather than electricity.

      Some of the technical topics for the first part of the seminar included:

      Understanding of the global solar thermal resource

      Solar water heating first principals

      Understanding thermodynamics

      Thermosiphon vs. pumped systems

      Different types of application for solar thermal technologies (e.g. district heating, cooling, drying)

      Examples of South African solar thermal installations