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South Africa: First solar powered village

A South African electrical engineer and a property development company have teamed up to create the country’s first solar-powered village. The 100-house development in Clanwilliam will generate enough electricity for all household needs and, if the sun keeps shining, homeowners will be able to sell electricity back to Eskom.
The site, on the Cape West Coast, developed by Group 3 Properties and already serviced by the local council, should be finished by the year’s end. Each house will be connected to the national electricity grid but also to two large solar panels on the roof – one a thermal panel for hot water and another for electrical applications. Back-up energy is stored in a battery that kicks in when the sun is not shining or when the grid is unavailable.

If a home uses more power than it generates, it can draw from Eskom; if it generates surplus power this can be transferred to other homes or back to Eskom via a sophisticated electrical network developed by Michel Malengret of the University of Cape Town.

But while observers hail the concept as a triumph of alternative energy, government authorities have yet to ratify the necessary standards to allow export of electrical power to the grid.

Malengret said: “SA electrical supply authorities still need the necessary legislation and standards to allow for grid-connected electrical power sources.”

Additional information:
News date: 12/06/2006

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