Thursday, October 22, 2009

SA's thin-film solar tech at commercial stage

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 by Reuters

A public-private partnership between a South African university and private investors is working on a plant to commercialise thin film technology in the country, an official said on Monday.

Professor of physics at the University of Johannesburg Vivian Alberts said the partnership under Thin Film Solar Technologies Pty Ltd had procured land in the country's Western Cape province to produce the thin film solar modules.

A team of scientists led by Alberts invented the design for the solar panels, which consist of micro-thin metallic film -- only five microns thick - that converts light into energy at a fraction of the cost.

Alberts said the advantage of the product was its stability over long-term and its low cost base, far cheaper than traditional solar photovoltaic cells.

The machinery required for the plant would be built in Germany and shipped to the site in Paarl, South Africa.

Shareholders in the project include petrochemicals giant Sasol, the Central Energy Fund (CEF), the National Empowerment Fund and the University of Johannesburg.