A Spoke in Photovoltaic Research and Training was developed with the Physics Department at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the Fort Hare Institute of Technology as the primary partners. Their work focuses on solar cell and module testing and characterisation; system evaluation and monitoring; concentrator PV cell characterisation and module design; outdoor testing; and building integrated PV design and embedded generation.


A number of research projects in the area of sustainable energy generation and utilisation, at a smaller scale for the urban poor and rural areas, are ongoing in the School of Public Leadership, in association with the Sustainability Institute based at the Lynedoch Eco-Village outside Stellenbosch. Examples of these research efforts include inputs that were given to the national Joint Working Group on Solar Water Heaters, based on experiences in the Village, and the monitoring of building-integrated photovoltaic systems.


The School of Public Leadership, of Stellenbosch University, collaborates with researchers in the Energy Research Centre (ERC), of the University of Cape Town, the Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM), of the University of Pretoria, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to inform technology and innovation strategies and planning, and policy, in the country and the Southern African region. The research primarily revolves around energy systems analysis and the development of appropriate decision-making tools.

Apart from these priority areas, CRSES constantly pursues and updates its database of expertise and projects in RSE in South Africa. For instance the thin-film PV technology developed at the University of Johannesburg is now being pursued as a private venture in the Western Cape and has been replaced by an activity in solar water heating and efficient lighting in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. In the Department of Electrical Engineering, at the University of the Witwatersrand, work on electrical generators for wave energy converters has started.

At the Tshwane University of Technology a well established group working on solar water heaters has recently acquired new test facilities that can augment the national facility at the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). A number of other institutions, including Stellenbosch University, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Northwest University, have activities in solar water heaters. It is envisaged that these activities will be extended in the near future to address commercial-scale solar heating and cooling (SHC), which is of significant importance as it is an area where South Africa can realise a considerable switch from fossil fuels to renewable solar energy for a variety of industrial processes.


1.The South African Wind Energy Centre (SAWEC): The aim of this project is to establish a site with a number of facilities and training programmes where training for the wind industry can be provided, space and facilities made available to conduct research and development on locally developed wind turbines and provide test and certification services to industry.
2.South African Solar Resource Map: A verified solar resource map and database for South Africa is urgently needed. Such data needs to be verified with high accuracy solar resource measurements. CRSES is already maintaining and monitoring seven such stations for a variety of clients and is well positioned to coordinate this project.
3.Research CSP Power Plant: CRSES is working with different stakeholders on proposals to build a 5 to 8 MWe CSP demonstration plant in South Africa that will be used as a research facility to investigate new technology. The plant will be modular so that different sections could be replaced with locally developed technology to be tested. This plant can also be included in the DST initiative to form a Solar Energy Centre of Competence.