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Provision of alternative energy: A case study in the Eastern Cape rural communities

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1 Author(s)
MM Sitshinga ; Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa

Authorities such as Eskom have since 1992, embarked on an extensive electrification programme. This programme, aimed at providing electricity to all citizens, is however handicapped by the high cost of grid-connected electricity extension to remote areas. For this reason, a large percentage of rural communities in the country are still without electricity and unable to be reached by extensions of the existing grid in the foreseeable future. In an effort to ensure access to all, the government considered Solar Home System (SHS) as one of the alternative energy solution. The study will therefore show that other forms of renewable energy can provide similar energy supply systems. These forms include naturally occurring non-depletable sources of energy such as fuel cells. This paper is based on laboratory observation of the performance of photovoltaic installation at former Eastern Cape Technikon now part of Walter Sisuslu University (WSU) and zinc air-fuel performance as determined by the Gauteng based Renewable Energy Africa (REA) company. REA was a Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) Industry partner to WSU. The study found that, although the government considered SHS to provided electric power to rural communities, the Zinc- Air Fuel Cell (ZAFC) system could be an alternative source of energy for remote rural electrification. This technology is further strengthened by its immunity to weather conditions experienced by other forms of energy such as wind and solar systems. Consequently, the authorities have since been approached towards to assess and evaluate this alternative technology. Once approved, the product would be prototyped and its performance subsequent to scientific investigation be evaluated to sample rural consumers. Eventually this technology could be implemented in major rural communities in the country and beyond.

Published in:

Domestic Use of Energy Conference (DUE), 2012 Proceedings of the 20th

Date of Conference:

3-4 April 2012