• Benadette Wambui

Common Application of Solar Energy

Updated: Jan 26

Africa is often considered and referred to as the "Sun continent" or the continent where the Sun's influence is the greatest. According to the "World Sunshine Map", Africa receives many more hours of bright sunshine during the course of the year than any other continent of the Earth; many of the sunniest places on the planet lie there.


Despite the large solar potential, penetration of solar power in Africa's energy sector is still very low. However, solar energy education in Africa is growing hence more people are considering solar energy especially after comparing it to other sources of energy.


Below are the different ways in which solar energy is used in various African countries.


Solar Electricity


Solar electricity is becoming increasingly accessible. While still a very small percentage of the electricity generated in Africa, solar electricity is growing rapidly. A distributed solar PV system is typically installed on the rooftops of homes or businesses. These solar power systems generate electricity to offset the property owner’s usage and send any excess production to the electric grid. A solar battery can connect to your solar power system to enable you to use solar after the sun goes down, power an EV overnight, or provide backup power during emergencies. Some homeowners may choose to go completely off the grid with a solar power and battery system or a solar power and generator system.


Solar Water Heaters


Various types of solar water heaters are available. A good example is a thermosyphon solar water heater that was developed at the national centre for energy research and development in Nigeria (NCERD), University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The system can produce hot water supply at a temperature range of 70 – 800C for use in hospitals, hotels, industries and homes.


Solar Cookers


Solar radiation is also harnessed for cooking food by concentrating them in solar cookers. Different models of solar cookers have been developed to make cooking so

Much easier and cheaper. Concentrating solar cookers with reflectors to focus light on the cooking tray can attain temperatures up to 3150C.


Solar Crop, Fish and Manure Dryer


Solar crop dryers are mechanised methods of using solar radiation to dry agricultural crops that excludes the traditional method of open to sun or air drying. Different types of solar crop dryers produced by many agencies include solar dryers for grains such as maize, rice, beans, vegetable, pepper, melon, and root crops. A natural circulation solar manure dryer for drying poultry waste, cow dung, pig dropping were also developed. Solar dryers for fish and meat are also available. The solar dryers are more efficient, enhance complete drying and longer storage compared to open-air drying.


Solar Chicken Brooders


Chicken brooders use solar radiation as source of heat in place of electricity bulbs, kerosene lamps or stoves to provide heat for freshly hatched chickens. The technology eliminates the emission of product gases that are hazardous in health of both man and chicken. The system traps heat in a water-filled tank covered with glass and store for brooder space heating during the day and night at temperatures of 35 – 250C. The design has provision for feeding and watering of chickens as well as collection and discharge of chicken droppings.


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