SOLTRAIN Background


SOLTRAIN - Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative is a regional program on capacity building and demonstration of solar thermal systems in the SADC region. It is funded by the Austrian Development Agency and OFID.

SOLTRAIN started in 2009, and is currently in its fourth phase of cooperation with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

The implementing agency of SOLTRAIN is AEE INTEC, an Austrian institute for applied research.


The local partners are the South African National Energy Development Insitute (SANEDI) and the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the Namibia Energy Institute from Namibia, the Bethel Business and Community Development Centre from Lesotho, the National Company for Science and Technology Parks in Mozambique, Botswana University and Solar Industries Association in Botswana, the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe and last but not least the Southern African Development Community Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE).

Aims, goals and results so far

The SADC region faces a huge power deficit due to lack of investment in the power sector. Over 80% of the electricity is generated from coal. A subsequent eminent disruption to the power supplies in the SADC Region is a major threat to the economic growth currently being experienced. Since a considerable share (40 – 50%) of the electricity is used for hot water preparation solar water heaters would be one of the major options in order to reduce the electricity demand and thus the environmental effects like CO2 emissions caused by fossil fuelled power plants. SADC member states have excellent solar irradiation with more than 2000 kWh/m² annual radiation and estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggest that solar thermal systems could meet about 70 – 80% of the regions low-temperature heating and cooling demand.

Due to these reasons, SOLTRAIN is designed to support and contribute towards the implementation of different energy policies of the target countries that enhance the use of solar thermal systems. Energy poverty negatively affects the circumstances of large numbers of people generally and particularly in the SADC Member States. There are close links between energy supply and practically all aspects of sustainable development such as access to water, agricultural and industrial productivity, health care, education, job creation, environmental pollution and climate change.

The focus of SOLTRAIN is to contribute towards reducing energy poverty by improving access to sustainable energies, specifically solar thermal solutions, and thus directly contributing to the realisation of SDG 7 and indirectly to SDG 1, SDG12 and SDG 13[1].

By the end of September 2022, more than 4,000 people were trained in 150 training courses and 487 solar thermal systems ranging from 2 to 600 m² collector area, per system, have been installed.

In order to support broad rollout programmes of solar thermal systems in all six participating countries, Solar Thermal Roadmaps and Implementation Plans were developed in broad stakeholder processes in close cooperation with policy (ministries and governmental bodies).The implementation of these roadmaps is one of the focal points of the current phase IV.


Results and expected outputs of Phase IV (2019 - 2022)

-       1,200 persons will be trained in 90 training courses in design, installation, maintenance and quality assurance of solar thermal systems

-       24 site visits with 250 participants will be carried out to show the potentials and results of solar thermal systems

-       6 national Solar Thermal Roadmaps (one per each country) are under implementation

-       6 annual solar thermal statistical data reports (one per each country) are available

-       100 solar thermal demonstration systems for various applications installed, in operation and quality checked and

-       at least 2,500 MWh of electricity saved and 430 tons of CO2 emission avoided annually.




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