Research collaboration gives insight on small-scale solar energy systems

Koos Degenaar -- Tue, 07/19/2016 - 15:39

Research collaboration gives insight on small-scale solar energy systems

The Department of Physics at the Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU) recently hosted a visiting lecturer from the Department of Physics at Makerere University in Uganda. Dr Denis Okello is part of a research collaboration programme with Prof Ashmore Mawire from the department.

Their research focuses on small-scale concentrating solar energy systems with heat storage suitable for high temperature applications.

In his presentation he reviewed some of the thermal energy storage results achieved from the collaboration in an attempt to design a solar cooking system with heat storage suitable for cooking and other related applications. The most existing solar cookers cannot store energy and their uses are restricted to only the sunny part of the day. Since the availability of solar radiation does not always coincide with the energy demand, they saw, in their research collaboration, a need for a system that can store thermal energy during times of availability of solar radiation so that the heat energy is made available for use at night and during cloudy periods.

Dr Okello holds a PhD in Physics from Makerere University and MSc degree in Physics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway. He did his postdoctoral training at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) where he investigated the energy yield of photovoltaics’ systems. His main research areas are thermal storage and energy yield of photovoltaics’ systems. He is a member of different energy organisations such as the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), Material Science and Solar Energy in East and Southern Africa (MSSEESA) and Energy Accessibility and Efficiency in East Africa (ENRICH). On top of that, he is also the team leader of the Renewable Energy Research Group RERG at the Department of Physics, Makerere University.