South Africa has launched on Monday a semi commercial plant used for the production of a thin-film solar module that provides an effective way to convert solar energy into electricity in Stellenbosch.
The plant was co-developed by the South African technology development and intellectual holding company Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property (PTiP) in partnership with German engineering company, Singulus Technologies.
Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property (PTiP) (Pty) Ltd is the first company in South Africa to convert basic raw materials through 15 production processes into a fully integrated solar energy product – all under one roof.
The development of the technology was initiated by the Physics Department at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in 1993, led by Professor Vivian Alberts.
According to South African, government news agency, the Department of Science and Technology funded a pilot plant at UJ through the then Innovation Fund, to the tune of R13 million. In 2011, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) approved a second round of funding of R20 million to the UJ spin-off company, PTiP. The TIA funding was backed by an initial R93 million co-funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
The news agency disclosed that the facility currently employs 10 people, excluding building and equipment contractors.
Photovoltaic technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In 2011, thin-film solar photovoltaic technology accounted for 11 percent of market share and further growth is expected.
The commissioning of the pilot facility, Alberts said the immediate goal of the project was to set up a commercially viable production plant for thin-film solar modules in order to supply products with high local content to existing and future solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in South Africa.
“The European Investment Bank already announced its support for the establishment of a PTiP production plant and the mass production of PV modules,” Alberts added.