South Africa Commercializes High-Tech Solar Technology
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa, Feb. 3. 2014 — South Africa today launched Stellenbosch Technopark, a semicommercial plant designed for the production and marketing of a thin-film solar module that provides an effective way to convert solar energy into electricity.
The technology was co-developed by Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property (PTiP) Ltd., the first company in South Africa to convert basic raw materials through 15 production processes into a fully integrated solar energy product. Depending on the type of glass used, the local content of the panels is between 80% and 90%.
The thin-film module comprises a homogeneous semiconductor alloy with five chemical elements. The thickness of the active materials is 3 μm, compared with the >300-μm first-generation silicon technology.
The core aspects of the technology and related products were first developed in 1993 by researchers in the physics department at the University of Johannesburg (UJ); results at the laboratory level were achieved in 2002.
South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology funded a pilot plant at UJ through the Innovation Fund, followed by additional funding awarded to PTiP by the Technology Innovation Agency with co-funding from the Industrial Development Corp.
For more information, visit: www.uj.ac.za