The 6th Southern African Solar Energy Conference (SASEC) took place from the 25th to the 27th November 2019, at the idyllic Mpekweni Beach Resort in the Eastern Cape. SASEC focuses on research, development and deployment of both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic energy technologies. A group of STERG members attended the conference, hosted this year by the University of Fort Hare, with three STERG student members presenting their research as part of the conference programme.

Speakers and delegates of the 6th Southern African Solar Energy Conference, hosted by the University of Fort Hare and convened at Mpekweni, Eastern Cape

The opening keynote address, delivered by the director of the NREL Power Systems Engineering Centre, Dr Ben Kroposki, outlined key design, planning and operational factors involved in integrating high levels of variable renewable energy into existing power systems. Dr Paul Gauche, manager of the CSP Technologies Department at Sandia National Labs and founding member of STERG, was also in attendance and delivered a keynote address on U.S. DOE Gen3 and SunShot 2030 CSP research and development.

Dr Ben Kroposki, Centre Director: Power Systems Engineering (NREL), addresses delegates at the 6th Southern African Solar Energy Conference

Industrial and residential use of solar thermal energy featured prominently in the solar thermal energy sessions, with bifacial modules garnering much interest in the photovoltaic sessions, and the subject of grid integration prevalent in both tracks.

The last day of the conference featured a visit to the East London Industrial Development Zone, which included a tour of the 300 MW PV module factory, developed as a joint venture between Seraphim, ILB Helios Southern Africa and Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa.

Congratulations to the hosts and organisers of SASEC 2019, and a special thanks to STERG, CRSES and our supervisors for generously funding our attendance.