The Photovoltaics Unit in the Department of Physics at the Nelson Mandela University is managed by Prof Ernest van Dyk, as Unit Head assisted by Dr Freddie Vorster, as Vice-head, and Ms Mariska Muller as Project Administrator.
The PV Unit is part of the Photovoltaics Research Group (PVRG) with research activities based in the Department of Physics covering a wide range of topics, including: PV materials and defect studies; Solar cell and PV module characterisation; and Systems evaluation.
The Photovoltaics Research Group is supported by Telkom. The project is also funded by the National Research Foundation and THRIP.

For further information on the Photovoltaics Research Group, please visit the Department of Physics webpages.

The PVRG strives to better understand:

Performance-limiting degradation and failure modes in PV devices.

1. The cause of premature failure in PV cells, complete, modules and systems.

2. The root cause of non-functioning areas in newly manufactured PV cell material.

3. The effect of various types of cell damage on the degradation rate and failure of PV cells and modules - whether before or after long-term outdoor exposure.

4. The natural long-term degradation rate of normally functioning PV modules in small systems and utility-scale PV power plants.




To undertake a detailed evaluation of PV devices and modules that may be deployed in remote applications.

To undertake a detailed study of various aspects of PV system design and performance in order to enable industry partners and collaborators to better utilise the resources available to them.

To develop human resources through the training of skilled graduates with expertise in the technical aspects of solar energy for South Africa’s present and future needs.

To further develop the capabilities of the photovoltaic research facilities within the Department of Physics at Nelson Mandela University in order to benefit renewable energy users in South Africa and the rest of Africa.