New, innovative solar energy technology is a viable option for implementation in Ghana

Av Cathrine Glosli

Saeed Abdul-Ganiyu’s PhD shows that commercial photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) technology is a viable alternative energy source in off-grid situations in West Africa. His results will be useful for stakeholders when deciding policies.

Socio-economic development across the globe is linked to the availability of reliable energy. Meanwhile, billions of people worldwide do not have access to electricity, clean cooking and space heating and are trapped extensively in a vicious cycle of poverty.

“The situation is particularly dire in Africa, which is home to 17% of the world’s

population but generates only 4% of global power supply,” PhD candidate Saeed Abdul-Ganiyu says.

Comparing performances

In his PhD, Abdul-Ganiyu has examined the performance of commercial photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) technology in Ghana.

This is the first known attempt to assess a commercial PVT module’s real-life performance in the West Africa sub-region. He has also compared two types of technologies: photovoltaic (PV) and PVT, to see which performs better.

Innovative but unused technology

PVT is innovative solar technology that combines conventional PV and solar thermal systems into one is the photovoltaicthermal (PVT) technology. Although the PVT technology is seen to have a lot of potential in providing remote solutions, its performance is heavily linked to the environment where it is deployed.

“PVT technology has not been commercially successful as the conventional systems due to several reasons, including lack of information and standards about the technology,” Abdul-Ganiyu explains.

From Saeed Abdul-Ganiyu’s fieldwork in Ghana.
From Saeed Abdul-Ganiyu’s fieldwork in Ghana. Foto: Saeed Abdul-Ganiyu

PVT technology has high potential

Abdul-Ganiyu’s results show that although the flat-plate PVT technology has a very high potential in terms of energy provision, its exergy output isn’t very different from the conventional PV system.

“To compete well with the conventional systems in market share, its cooling effect on the cells should translate into both electrical energy and thermal energy gains,” he says.

“PVT is a worthy prospective alternative energy source in off-grid situations.”

The PVT generally performed better than the PV in stand-alone situations when installed with batteries as back-up.

“However, the PV system becomes more economically viable than the PVT system when both systems were installed without batteries.”

Decision support

He has explored the use of energy as an economic parameter in assessing the long-term feasibility of the PVT system in comparison with conventional systems. His thesis contributes to efforts at addressing issues of data under-representation from countries in Africa in the area of PVT technology.

“My results are beneficial to stakeholders, aiding them in making informed decision with regards to the options available to them in the use of solar technology,” he concludes.

Saeed Abdul-Ganiyu will defend his PhD thesis “Performance of a photovoltaic-thermal system in a tropical environment of central Ghana”, on Tuesday the 8th of March 2022.

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