By Pamenus Tuso
A team of Zimbabwean experts have conducted a research into designing a solar Photovolvic (PV) electrical hybrid energy system for powering lighter domestic appliances to relieve strain of the national grid.
A report jointly compiled by four lectures from local universities, states that the experimentally designed photovoltaic solar electrical energy system is an economical and sustainable alternative that comes with a lot of benefits and advantages.
“Apart from the economics, hybrid systems empower people with energy security, self –sufficiency and locks in the future cost of electricity and the system has a longer life span.
“In addition, it brings the benefit of controlling when to use the solar power (self use, and provides an uninterrupted power supply when others have lost the national grid power,” said National University of Science and Technology (NUST) lecturer, Dr Tichakunda Valentine Chabata, one of the researchers.
Dr Chabata, a renewable energy expert, said the PV solar design is also ideal for powering rural homes thereby contributing in changing the quality of their lives.
“The stand alone systems if implemented in rural areas would go a long way in contributing to improving the quality of life. It will be advantageous if the government was to take an interest in adopting the PV system to accelerate the rural electrification programme.
“Further, the study is also recommending the designing of similar systems to power street lights and traffic lights,” he said.
Following the global decline in prices of PV solar components and the long sunny hours that Zimbabwe receives, the research recommends that people should get more education on the benefits of utilising sustainable clean renewable resources.
One of the researchers, a sustainable procurement expert at Bindura University Science Education (BUSE), Dr Felix Chari, said government should monitor the quality of the photovoltaic products it imports. The prices of PV components should be aligned to regional levels to enable the general population to invest in the solar energy sector.
The research design is based on a low density housing unit that uses 12 lights.
This yielded 12 months cost recovery that was pivoted on a projected saving of 18.2 MW on lighting using Bulawayo households’ statistics.
There is enough statistical evidence to recommend large scale implementation and further research to establish the total savings inclusive of institutional lighting, traffic lights and public lighting.
The other researchers from NUST who participated in the research project are Lideon Sibanda, Sindiso Nleya and Polite Mukwada.
The research findings were presented at the 11th Zimbabwe International Research symposium held in Harare recently.