CUT – home to a world-class solar project

From the left are Prof. Herman Vermaak, dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology; Prof. Henk de Jager, vice-chancellor and principal of CUT; Dr Gary Paul, deputy vice-chancellor: Resources and Operations; Prof. Hesta Friedrich-Nel, assistant dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences; Prof. Alfred Ngowi, deputy vice-chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement; Martin Walzer, project manager at Karah Assets and Cobus Vermeulen, managing director at Karah Assets. Photo: Pierce van Heerden

The Central University of Technology (CUT) is partnering with a private enterprise, Karah Assets, to make use of cutting edge technology. They are going green with their new CUT Solar 1 project to create a world-class outdoor facility, the most efficient of its kind in Africa.

CUT is currently busy with the installation of a solar plant that will produce 153,59 kWp through ground-mounted 8-m high panels secured on masts. The power generated will be fed into the local grid of the university and this process will be closely monitored. The monitoring will also extend to temperature and irradiation for the purpose of training staff and students involved in the project.

The system that is being installed at the CUT and will, according to one of the members from Karrah Assets, Kobus Vermeulen, generate enough energy to support 10% of the university as this is only phase one of the project. The project forms part of cost-saving measures by the university as the energy bill of the institution is high, and by generating their own electricity they are also looking at reducing their footprint. The university will also be the first in South Africa to use a system that is this advanced.

According to vice-chancellor and principal of CUT, Prof. Henk de Jager, the university strives to be sustainable for the future and by producing its own energy through using these platforms there will be a lot of saving on the university’s energy bill. That will assist them to enhance the academic project and research project to the benefit of their staff and students.

“Being a university of technology you must have very close links with the industry. So, first of all. for us it is important to cement those relationships and it is a win win partnership between us and the industry. Then, of course, there are the benefits of the particular project. So, it brings us an outdoor research laboratory where our students will be able to engage. There will be a number of improvements. They will be able to enhance their own research field in the renewable energy arena, as well as in sustainable environment. Secondly, it will also serve our teaching purposes. This is now a world-class outdoor facility, the most efficient of its kind in Africa at this stage,” Prof. De Jager concluded. – Pierce van Heerden