Solar Energy: Power of the sun in South Africa
Solar energy is something on every South Africans lips at the moment, given load-shedding and its love affair with our daily lives.
Solar energy is the most abundantly available energy resource on our precious planet. Which is especially true here in South Africa, where most areas average above 2500 hours of sunshine per year. This abundance of sunlight hours translates into, electricity production through solar-radiation ranging from 4,5 to 6,5kWh per square meter in a single day. Solar radiation can be harnessed and utilised in several ways, as a renewable energy source. It is an integral part of our clean and green energy future.
The sun does so much more than for our beautiful South Africa than just provide us with the daylight each particle of sunlight (called a photon) that reaches Earth contains energy that fuels our planet. Solar energy is the ultimate source responsible for all of our weather systems and energy sources on Earth, and enough solar radiation hits the surface of the planet each hour to theoretically fill our global energy needs for nearly an entire year.
Where does all of this energy come from? Our sun, like any star in the galaxy, is like a massive atomic power plant. Deep within the Sun’s core, thermonuclear reactions produce colossal amounts of energy that radiates outward from the Sun’s surface and into space in the form of light and heat, which is what we experience here on Earth.
Solar power can be captured and transformed into renewable, functional energy by the use of photovoltaics or solar thermal collectors. Currently solar energy only contributes a miniscule amount of power to global energy demand. However, the falling cost of solar panels and related equipment means that solar power is growing faster than ever.
Solar is a clean, green and renewable energy resource, which is undoubtably going to play an integral part in the global energy of the future.
The southern African region, and in fact the whole of Africa, has sunshine all year round. The annual 24-hour global solar radiation average is about 220 W/m2 for South Africa, compared with about 150 W/m2 for parts of the USA, and about 100 W/m2 for Europe and the United Kingdom. This makes South Africa's local resource one of the highest in the world.
We are in prime position here, let us take advantage of this and help Southern Africa Realise it potential.