School of Engineering


A SERAFF solar furnace undergoing initial testing.

UKZN to Host 2018 SA Solar Energy Conference

The focus of the Southern African Solar Energy Conference (SASEC) being hosted in Durban by UKZN from 25-27 June 2018 will be on solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy technology systems and applications.

SASEC is the premier gathering for engineers, scientists and researchers from the Southern African Development Community region to exchange cutting-edge information on developments in the fields of solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, resource assessment and policy.

Senior UKZN lecturer Dr Michael Brooks, who is the co-founder and leader of the Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG) based at the Discipline of Mechanical Engineering, is the conference Chair.

‘Solar energy holds enormous potential for fossil-fuel dependent countries to move towards sustainable power generation practices,’ said Brooks. ‘This is particularly true in our own country, South Africa, where the solar resource is extremely good and the power distribution network is well-developed. Against this backdrop, the SASEC conference has for many years provided researchers and industrial participants with a forum to exchange ideas on energy policy, to propose new technologies suited to the local context and to help develop a new generation of solar energy engineers. UKZN is proud to host the 2018 SASEC conference and to welcome delegates to sunny Durban,’ he said.

The conference aims to stimulate renewed interest in solar energy technologies, whether thermal or photovoltaic, and to support the growing solar energy industry in Southern Africa by providing a platform where participants can interact and build productive research networks.

Sharing their expertise on this subject matter will be keynote speakers Dr Michael Geyer and Dr Claudia Buerhop-Lutz.  Geyer is the Managing Director of Abengoa Solar GmbH and the Director Business Development Europe and Africa at Abengoa, and Buerhop-Lutz holds a doctorate in material science from the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany.

Buerhop-Lutz works at the Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research (ZAE Bayern) in Erlangen, Germany, where she is responsible for the thermographic inspections of PV-modules, especially PV-plants. ZAE Bayern was a pioneer in IR-thermography for outdoor analysis of PV-modules and now works with aerial drone-mounted IR-imaging systems.

SASEC will be hosted at an international level and has already received more than 90 abstracts from academics and researchers in countries around the world, including South Africa, Brazil, the United States, Europe and several African states. More than 20 universities will be represented.

Topics to be discussed at this year’s conference include: General Solar Energy, Solar Thermal Energy, Solar Photovoltaics, Solar Resource, Concentrating Solar Power, and Industrial and Domestic Solar Heating.

Anyone interested in attending SASEC 2018 should visit

Words: Prashina Budree

Photograph: Jean Pitot