Today's Big Stories

Stellies scientists could be on the brink of solar power breakthrough

A team of scientists at Stellenbosch University have made international headlines for their low-cost solar technology innovation that seems to have baffled the global community for years.

(Also read our article: Tesla’s energy storage could have new local competition)

An engineer at the university's Helio100 project says the team has designed a cost-effective heliostat that harnesses solar power to generate electricity.

Heliostats are computer-controlled mirrors that keep the sun reflected on a fixed target as it moves across the sky.

Research member Sebastian Bode says they have reduced the cost of creating the system by reducing the physical size of the mirrors.

When we reduced the size of the mirrors, the structural costs came down. We also have reduced costs by eliminating ground-work and smart-control systems to direct the sunlight onto the tower at all times of the day.

Sebastian Bode, Helio100 project member

Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:

The pilot installation is in Mariendahl, an experimental farm between Stellenbosch and Klapmuts.

Until now, building heliostat plants has been prohibitively expensive and it is reported that the team aims to reduce production cost further to 6 cents per square meter of mirror.

Bode says that they are in the process of converting their pilot project into a commercial product.

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