SA leads the way in new solar technology

Wednesday, 06 August 2008

South Africa is at the forefront of the development of new solar power technology that will offer consumers a cheaper and highly efficient alternative to standard solar panels.

Solar PanelsThe breakthrough technology is the result of over 13 years of research by the University of Johannesburg's Professor Vivian Alberts. His solar panels are made from a unique metal alloy that converts light into energy at a fraction of the usual cost.

Unlike standard solar panels that contain a 350 micron thick silicon layer, Alberts' panels make use of copper, indium, gallium, sulphur and selenium. The result is a revolutionary thin panel, approximately five microns thick (a human hair is 20 microns thick), that can be sold at a dramatically lower cost.

The elements used in Alberts' panel are all semiconductors making his technology far more effective in attracting heat.

"The technology has proved itself in the pilot-plant phase, without a doubt," Alberts told Engineering News in 2005 when the breakthrough was first announced.

Following his discovery,  Alberts and the University of Johannesburg formed the company Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property in 2005 (PTIP). The company has since entered into agreements with a solar energy investor in Germany known as Johanna Solar Technology. Currently work is underway on the establishment of a purpose-built plant where the solar panels will be built.

According to Engineering News, PTIP will be building a local manufacturing facility with South African investors that will produce 450 000 panels a year.

The South African venture has earmarked a site in Paarl, in the Western Cape, for the local solar panel plant and the project is in the process of securing financing.

PDC Solar Geysers
Susman Avenue, Blairgowrie
Johannesburg, Gauteng
South Africa
Phone: +27 (0)11 886 4661