CUT’s utilisation of sun power benefits academics

CUT installed 12 PV solar arrays for the purpose of generating electricity and serving as a big laboratory for research projects

The Central University of Technology (CUT) is offering postgraduate students the opportunity to further study the benefits of solar power.

This after the institution established itself as one of the leading institutions in renewable energy solutions. According to the CUT, the Bloemfontein Campus is set to become a key role player in providing renewable energy with a well-established 153.7 kWp solar photovoltaic plant. The senior lecture for Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Dr Phillip Koko, stated that the installation of solar panels means the Bloemfontein-based institution will not solely rely on electricity supplied by Centlec.

“Electricity cost-saving usually depends on the amount of the generated electricity per annum as a result of sunlight hours as well as the tariff charges incurred by Centlec per kWh of electricity consumption. Hence, in 2019, the solar panels have generated approximately 405MWh of electricity energy based on the sunlight hours, which resulted in electricity cost savings of R878 416. Whereas in 2020, 325.7 MWh of energy was generated by the solar PV system, which resulted in electricity cost savings of R706 769,” Prof. Koko said.

He added that besides saving on electricity costs, the solar plant offers students an opportunity to expand their research work and discover how their research paves the way for a better future through solar photovoltaic energy.

“The installed solar plant also assists students to acquire some real-time data, which they can then use for their postgraduate studies or research. Additionally, some research studies have been conducted to improve the efficiency of the installed solar panels. Currently, two of the twelve trackers have been equipped with glass-on-glass panels instead of the standard panels. This has proved to increase the efficiency from 18.2% to 21.1%; hence more electricity cost savings will be achieved,” added Koko.

Meanwhile, the acting vice-chancellor and principal at CUT, Prof. Alfred Ngowi, said the institution is in support of the national development trajectory that shows a policy shift in the way energy is now going to be regulated. He also applauded the institution for playing a key role in renewable energy solutions through its applied research approach for the benefit of communities.

Kekeletso Mosebetsi