A physicist has partnered with international collaborators to develop an internationally patented solar system that has a customizable temperature range.

A Wits physicist, with the help of international colleagues and manufacturers, has developed a world-first solar energy system with the potential to be cheaper and more efficient.

The system is different from current technology, which uses concentrator units that restrict it from reaching high temperatures needed to capture more solar energy.

Concentrator units are important for solar systems. They are responsible for harnessing around 90% of energy from the sun, which is then converted to power.

Professor Philippe Ferrer’s solar system, mainly developed at Wits University, has been made for industry use and aims to make solar concentrator units more efficient.

He says, “Solar concentrator units have the main issue of cost and we have addressed this problem by making our solar system components and maintenance cheaper. What this means is that, one would get more renewable energy for less.”

Green cost-efficient energy matters to South Africa as current methods of producing and using energy have detrimental environmental and health effects. Ferrer told Wits Vuvuzela that: “Green energy has advantages in that it has less environmental impact than conventional sources, producing less gasses which are detrimental to the environment and health.”

Parts of the system are made by Die Master Industries, a tool and metal forms manufacturing company. Marco Prieschl, managing director of the company, told Wits Vuvuzela that they assisted Ferrer with prototyping the mirror system and mechanical design of the demonstrator unit. Prieschl says, “We are currently assisting in the procurement and manufacturing of parts of this system.”

He says it was interesting to work with the university and Ferrer.  Prieschl also says close cooperation between industry and academia can lead to innovation that’s beneficial to both parties. “The integration of the solar system into our company’s injection moulding processes could result in significant savings,” he adds.

Ferrer told Wits Vuvuzela that the building of the system is expected to be completed towards the end of September 2021.

FEATURED IMAGE: Solar panels being installed on the roof. Photo: Google.