by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – MILLIONS of people are set to be saved in energy costs following the launch of two of the largest sub-Saharan solar systems in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Austrian Ambassador officially launched the facilities in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
These Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration (SOLTRAIN) projects include a district heating plant for Wits University residences and a solar process heat plant for the Klein Karoo International (KKI) tannery.
SOLTRAIN is a regional initiative on capacity building and demonstration of solar thermal systems in the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
The solar energy initiative is being funded by the Austrian Development Agency and co-funded by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development.
The launch follows the fourth SOLTRAIN Conference, held this month in South Africa, for all SADC project partners.
Dr Karen Surridge, Centre Manager, Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development at South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) welcomed the landmark development.
“The successful conference we have just held with SOLTRAIN partners indicates the relevance of this highly successful programmefor the SADC renewable energy strategy and the development in successful systems across six countries,” Sturridge said.
The Wits Junction district heating project combines solar, co-generation and gas heating technologies, servicing 14 student residence buildings with hot water from one centralised hot water plant room. The installation includes 600m2 solar heating plant with 10m2 Austrian collectors.
There are 1 103 students in the 14 buildings, with an average consumption of 94 000 litres of hot water per day.
Since the system was commissioned, the complaints of not having hot water have reduced by 98%.The estimated costs savings are R40 million over the next 20 year
The KKI tannery section has installed a 600m2 solar collector system to reduce costs and increase competitiveness, since fuel costs are highly volatile, and to move its production to a more renewable base.
The process heat infrastructure is an oil burner and the feasibility study design was that the solar would displace the local fuel, indicated as 60% solar fraction.
Stellenbosch University predicted a payback of six-and-a-half years.
– CAJ News