Welcome to the Photovoltaics Research Group (PVRG)!



The Photovoltaics Research Group (PVRG) is a group of academics and students who are strongly focused on conducting research that addresses industry needs in the fast expanding PV industry in South Africa.  Our research and student projects are aimed at meeting the growing need for a knowledge base in the exciting field of PV technology.  The PVRG collaborates extensively with the university spin-off company, PVinsight Pty (Ltd), which creates opportunities for the PV students to work in an accredited laboratory environment and enabling them to gain first-hand knowledge of PV technology.

Energy is of fundamental importance to any society. Without it, development cannot take place. Load-shedding and electricity price hikes have revealed the reality of problems associated with the situation when demand outweighs capacity.  The bulk of South Africa's energy is supplied by fossil fuels, but if we can provide energy in an environmentally friendly way, it will be better for everyone - not just South Africa, but everyone. The deployment of large-scale Photovoltaic (PV) power plants in South Africa has demonstrated that providing electricity can be done in a manner that is aligned with environmental stewardship.  PV power plants are not only environmentally friendly and sustainable, but also provides cheaper electricity than conventional power stations. 



The PVRG consisting of academics and post-graduate (MSc and PhD) students, based in the Department of Physics, is actively involved the photovoltaic (PV) research activities.  We have an interest in all solar cell technologies and applications. Our work covers a wide range of topics, including PV materials and defect studies, device physics, solar cell and PV module characterisation and systems evaluation. In addition to our student projects in this field we also have the capabilities to evaluate solar cells and PV modules for institutional and industry partners. The techniques used for performance evaluation and degradation analysis are based on internationally acceptable standards and include optical, electrical and mechanical procedures.

Our staff supervise a growing body of post-graduate students, both internally and externally, in a variety of PV-related fields as well as serve or participate regularly in several local and international committees.  Our research team has interaction with local and international universities, institutions and industries, and welcome new partners wishing to collaborate with us on PV related projects.



Numerous research projects are undertaken by PVRG members every year. Our research activities are aimed at addressing issues of relevance to the PV industry and include projects in the following areas:

  • PV device and materials characterisation
  • PV module characterisation
  • Energy yield studies
  • Solar resource monitoring
  • Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV) technology development
  • PV system design and optimisation
  • ISO17025 accredited testing
  • PV plant characterisation

We also have a project that is part of the NMU Telkom Centre of Excellence (CoE)

If you are interested in joining us for post-graduate (MSc and PhD) studies in this exciting field of solar energy, please contact Prof van Dyk.