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We're happy to bring you the first newsletter of SOLTRAIN 4 in a cleaner, more accessible and mobile-friendly web format. This is the very first step in the rollout of an enhanced digital communications and online media strategy, so stay tuned!

We cover the following topics in this edition:

SOLTRAIN's demonstrable climate & avoided electricity cost credentials prove the case for solar thermal technology

Since the beginning of the SOLTRAIN project in May 2009, 326 solar thermal systems with a total collector area of 4,621m2 have been installed in six partner countries; Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The monitoring of a representative sample of these systems shows an impressive average specific annual solar yield of between 500 and 900 kWh/m², proving the excellent performance of the systems. 

Based on these figures, the annual solar yield of all 326 SOLTRAIN demonstration systems works out to a sizeable 3,534 MWh. This in turn corresponds to electricity savings of 3,887 MWh/a and avoided CO2 emissions of 1,222 tons. The avoided electricity cost corresponds to ZAR 9.9 million based on city of Cape Town tariffs in 2019 of 222.39 c/kWh plus VAT (255.75 c/kWh).

Potential beyond SOLTRAIN

Looking at the climate-relevant effects of all solar thermal systems installed so far in the six partner countries, the overall potential of solar thermal technology becomes clear.

The annual solar yield of all solar thermal systems in operation by the end of 2017 in the SOLTRAIN countries was about 1,500 GWh. This corresponds to electricity savings of 1,700 GWh/a and 539,000 tons of avoided CO2.

The calculated number of solar thermal systems in operation in 2017 was around 498,500. The figures for the different countries can be seen in the table below which shows calculated annual solar yield and corresponding electricity savings as well as avoided CO2 emissions of all solar thermal systems in operation by the end of 2017 (based on IEA SHC Solar Heat Worldwide ed. 2019)

Regional support from SACREEE

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) will support SADC governments and their agencies in implementing their solar thermal roadmaps throughout SOLTRAIN 4.

In this regard, SACREE will play the following roles under SOLTRAIN 4:
  • Ensuring that National Action Plans include Solar Thermal Roadmaps and raising awareness by communicating and broadcasting their goals and objectives.
  • Coordinating capacity building efforts.
  • Supporting the mobilisation of national and international funds for the implementation of the programmes and roadmaps. 
  • Supporting governmental bodies and private sector stakeholders that want to manufacture solar thermal systems.


SACREEE was established as a subsidiary organisation of the SADC Secretariat, by the SADC Ministers responsible for Energy in 2015, and endorsed by the 35th Council of Ministers Meeting of the regional block.  It is hosted by the Government of Namibia through its Ministry of Mines and Energy in Windhoek.

The Centre is established with technical support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and financial assistance of the Austrian Development Agency.

SACREEE’s mandate is to contribute to the region’s increased access to clean and affordable energy, and increased security of supply through the promotion of market based adoption of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and energy services.
SACREEE executes its mandate by supporting the region’s sustainable development objectives through resource mobilisation, policy, quality assurance, capacity building and knowledge management, communication, promoting investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency projects and programs.

Kudakwashe (Kuda) Ndhlukula, the Executive Director of SACREEE

SOLTRAIN 3 in numbers

After three years of intensive work and excellent cooperation, the third phase of the SOLTRAIN project was completed in June 2019 with 139 demonstration systems in operation as part of this phase.

Through close cooperation with project partners in six SOLTRAIN partner countries, a total of 1,088 persons were trained in 35 courses between 2016 and 2019. The training courses ranged from specialised courses for industrial process heat and solar cooling, to the training of vocational school teachers in the field of thermosiphon systems, to the training of inspectors for quality control.

Participants of the 3rd Train the Trainer course in Botswana with their certificates

As one of the direct results of the training courses, participating solar companies installed a total of 139 solar thermal systems with a cumulative collector area of 2,600 m².

The scale of the solar thermal systems ranged from small thermosiphon systems for single-family homes to the two largest solar thermal systems in sub-Saharan Africa, each with around 600 m² of collector area. These large-scale plants supply a university campus at WITS University in Johannesburg with hot water and one of the largest tanneries for ostrich leather with process-heat.

Of 139 solar thermal systems, 77 installations involved institutions supporting women or marginalised groups, hospitals and clinics, schools, universities and other social institutions.

Solar collectors from one of SOLTRAIN 3's larger projects, the ostrich tannery in Oudtshoorn. 

[Namibia] Ten thousand more household solar thermal systems to be installed

Following on the success of a SOLTRAIN initiative in 2016 in which systems were installed on 60 houses in Windhoek, we’re pleased to announce that 10,000 more houses in Osona will now also be equipped with solar water heating systems.

Southern Africa has an already strained electricity grid and experiences frequent power outages and each newly built house in the region adds to the strain. The inclusion of  solar water heaters has the potential to greatly alleviate the strain, and to this end, the Government of Namibia has an ambitious target of 185,000 new home installations by 2030.

Monitoring data from some of the 60 solar water heaters installed in the pilot phase shows that 40-50% of households' electricity needs is for the supply of domestic hot water, and that households with solar water heaters save around 1 000 kWh of electricity per year.

Motivated by such positive results, a solar urban development concept is now being implemented in Osona in Okahandja, about 60 km north of Windhoek. In the first phase, a new settlement with around 10,000 apartments, a vocational training campus and a commercial area is to be built on an area of 1,100 ha (50% of the total area planned for the development of Okahandja).

In addition to other requirements, each of the houses must be equipped with a solar water heater.

This project is supported with technical expertise, training of installers and quality control by AEE INTEC in collaboration with the Namibia Energy Institute. The solar yields of the systems and the subsequent CO2 emissions saved will be monitored and reported on.

This project not only contributes to green urban development, but also contributes to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
John Titus, director of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, had this to say about the project: “Projects such as these in Osona are key to the implementation of the Namibian National Energy Policy (NREP 2017). The Austrian-funded SOLTRAIN project has been supporting our initiatives for the last nine years.”

[South Africa] Greening the Military: Solar hot water for the Air Force

A function celebrating the commissioning of a new solar water heating system at the South African Air Force’s Hoedspruit Base took place recently. The state of the art system was a collaboration between SANEDI, one of SOLTRAIN’s South African implementation partners, and the air force base themselves, and the system will be used to supply cheap and reliable hot water to the gymnasium.

At the event’s official proceedings, SANEDI’s Karen Surridge emphasised the role that SOLTRAIN plays in skills and capacity development in the solar thermal sector, highlighting the training that takes place under SOLTRAIN in both the public and private sectors.
Thus far, SOLTRAIN training endeavours in the South African National Defence Force have involved 20 artisans who have successfully completed the SOLTRAIN thermosiphon course. Through such training initiatives, facilities like the air force base will now have inhouse skills to maintain and monitor their systems, measure the benefits and, by so doing, to grow their institutional capacity to make smarter, greener choices when it comes to energy, waste and water services.
"I loved the technical lectures, the course was interactive and as a hands-on person, I excelled when the group would simulate real situations and we were encouraged to apply the lessons learnt during the sessions. I derived great benefit from attending the course and I cannot wait to put what I have learnt there to good use here at the base."

Sergeant Johnson
The system launch event was attended by Major General Tersia Jacobs, Major General Joseph Ledwaba, Colonel Benedict Manzini and Dr Karen Surridge.


The Southern African Solar Thermal Training & Demonstration Initiative is a regional initiative for capacity building & demonstration of solar thermal systems in the SADC region. It is funded by the Austrian Development Agency & co- funded by the Opec Fund for International Development. Please visit SOLTRAIN on the web at for more about the programme.


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