A Case Study on the Viability of Electricity Generated from a Solar PV Installation as an Alternative or Supplement to Traditional Electricity Supply in Existing Buildings

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This research study emphasizes the global responsibility and the importance of employing alternative sources of energy that are climate-friendly. It argues against coal-based energy creation and explains why it is not a long-term sustainable solution to the global energy demand. Many countries have embraced green energy initiatives and are adopting progressive strategies to limit its carbon footprint. The research explores and compares various methods of generating renewable energy and motivates the identification of solar energy as a suitable candidate to contribute on a much larger scale to the energy demand for South Africa and abroad. The paper further researches the history of solar energy, barriers preventing large scale implementation and the solutions to bridge those barriers. The aim of this paper is to determine to what extent technology has developed for small scale property owners to generate its own electricity supply from solar energy resources in South Africa and whether the supply generated would be sufficient to warrant consistent and uninterrupted flow compared to traditional coal-based energy resources. The cost of installation and maintenance of solar PV technology together with its financial return is investigated as well as the possibility to generate excess electricity that can be fed back into the grid. The result of the research sheds light on whether it makes financial sense to small scale building owners or managers to install a rooftop solar PV system to either generate its own stream of electricity supply or to merely supplement the traditional electricity supply from Eskom, the national electricity supplier. The research study chose to analyse a single case study and conducted semi~structured interviews with a number of stakeholders. The case study comprised a solar PV system that has been mounted on a rooftop of a building tenanted by a private school. The financial data from the installation in addition to qualitative data arrived at the conclusion that it is financially viable for building owners or managers to install a suitably sized PV system to supplement traditional electricity supply in existing buildings.