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Solar Power

Solar power can be used to generate electricity - this process is called photovoltaics. If you have a solar-powered watch or calculator, you’re already using photovoltaics!

In 1954, scientists at Bell Telephone discovered that silicon (an element found in sand) created an electric charge when it was exposed to lots of sunlight. Just a few years later, silicon chips were used to help power space satellites. The silicon from just one ton of sand, used in photovoltaic cells, could produce as much solar power as burning 500,000 tons of coal.

Solar power is renewable, clean and has no direct emissions. Solar power is produced by solar panles using the process explained above. Solar panels can be used almost anywhere in South Africa and are suitable for low energy use such as lights, computers and television.



Design Recommendations

When designing the electrical system for your house, business or lodge, we recommend that you combine the following elements:

  • Solar Power system for critical appliances like your computer
  • Solar Geyser: This will reduce your electricity demand by almost half, while it will pay for itself within 3 or 4 years from the savings on electricity
  • Power Generator: as a back-up system and to supplement the Solar Power
  • Power from the national grid (Eskom): Still the cheapest electricity available.
Description of a Solar Power System:

The primary component of a Solar Power system is the Photovoltaic module. The components added to the module constitute the balance of system. Components can be classified into four categories:

  • Batteries - store electricity to provide energy on demand at night or on overcast days;
  • Inverters - required to convert the DC power produced by the Photovoltaic module into AC power
  • Controllers - manage the energy storage to the battery and deliver power to the load; and
  • Structure - required to mount or install the PV modules
  • Additional Power Sources – power generators of national power grid can be connected to the system to supplement the power requirements
The following requirements are necessary for PV systems:
  • High levels of sunlight. Areas where there is a prolonged presence of clouds or mist are not suitable for PV systems. However, South Africa has one of the highest solar irradiation levels in the world.
  • Direct sunlight is required for the PV panels. This means that the site should be free of shading from trees, buildings, etc