Stellenbosch University presents benefits of solar thermal projects to metal finishing industry

South Africa

Submitted by Karin Kritzinger
Published 3 years ago

The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University (CRSES) attended the South African Metal Finishing Association (SAMFA) annual general meetings in June. CRSES was represented by Angelo Buckley and the opportunity was used to present and discuss the potential for large-scale applications of solar thermal technologies in the metal finishing industry and to introduce the SOLTRAIN initiative, aimed at driving and funding large-scale solar thermal demonstration systems in South Africa. One of the meetings was also attended by Peter Klein from the CSIR, who presented on the Solar Payback Project and provided insight into the benefits it offers.

SAMFA was established with Danish funding in 2000 to execute cleaner production programmes in the Metal Finishing industry. SAMFA supports and represents companies, including suppliers to the trade, in the electroplating, e-coating, anodising and powder coating sectors in South Africa.

CRSES recognises the potential benefit of solar thermal technologies to supply process heat for low temperature processes of the industry such metal cleaning, finishing and surface treatment. Most of these processes require hot water at temperatures ranging from 40 °C to 100 °C, making solar thermal heating systems ideal for providing a large percentage of a company’s process heat demand, and offsetting the usage of more costly, conventional fuel sources such as electricity, diesel and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which is most commonly used for process heat by the industry.

There was a large interest from SAMFA members in solar thermal technology and the financial benefits it could provide to their respective companies. Many companies have looked into renewable energy technologies such solar thermal and solar photovoltaics (PV) as well as energy efficiency technologies such as heat pumps. However, to date no significant investments have been made in such projects. CRSES hopes that the presentations grow the industry’s understanding of solar thermal technology, the financial benefits it has to offer and the different funding initiatives available (such as the SOLTRAIN and Solar Payback) and that this sparks the onset of the first of many large solar thermal projects within the industry in South Africa.

CRSES would also like to give a special thanks to Tony van der Spuy, Chairman of SAMFA, for providing the opportunity to attend and present at these meetings.