Solar thermal in the commercial sector is in its infancy and offers huge opportunities for businesses to save money and reduce carbon emissions. As the price of solar thermal technology falls, much in the same way as in solar electric through solar photovoltaic technology, and the price of electricity continues to rise, the benefits of going solar will become increasingly attractive.
Already large scale solar thermal, which for convenience one can describe as 5 000 litres of hot water and above, is providing businesses with an investment where capital invested can be paid off in as little as 5 years or less. With a lifespan of 25 years and more, and potential savings for 60 years subject to maintenance, solar thermal competes with the expected lifespan of a power station.
In South Africa SOLTRAIN has been promoting awareness and the benefits of going solar thermal for commercial applications for a few years. Technical expertise and knowledge for understanding the complexities and engineering requirements of large scale solar thermal in South Africa has and continues to be supported by the Austrians and Germans, both leaders in the field of renewable energy. New initiatives in South Africa in conjunction with SOLTRAIN and SESSA are leading to greater awareness, education and training for companies, finance directors, engineers, quantity surveyors, architects and energy consultants.