To access this work you must either be on the Smith College campus OR have valid Smith login credentials.

On Campus users: To access this work if you are on campus please Select the Download button.

Off Campus users: To access this work from off campus, please select the Off-Campus button and enter your Smith username and password when prompted.

Non-Smith users: You may request this item through Interlibrary Loan at your own library.

Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Electric power systems-South Africa, Rural electrification-South Africa, Rural electrification-Government policy-South Africa, Rural electrification-Computer simulation, Renewable energy sources, Power systems, Policy, Computer modelling, Renewable energy


After apartheid ended, South Africa instituted a national electrification programme that connected three million households to the national grid. While this was a significant accomplishment, this increased electricity demand put a strain on the existing power network, which led to rolling blackouts. Despite the success of the rapid electrification programme, there are still millions of people, particularly in rural areas, without electricity. In light of the current electricity crisis and the policy support for renewable energy generation as outlined by the South African government, it is the right time to consider rural electrification by way of hybrid off-grid power systems. A rural electrification project consists of multiple steps which are site selection, load prediction, resource assessment, technology selection, and finally system configuration. The choice of site shapes the rest of the project and a geospatial model was built, which in conjunction with census data identified potential sites. The next step was to determine the load that the system would have to serve, which was done by creating a load modelling tool. Resource assessment requires finding the wind and solar resources at the site in question, while technology selection involved finding manufacturers of wind turbines, generators, PV panels, inverters, batteries and other technologies. Possible system configurations were found using two models, one a specialised simulation software HOMER and the other a model based on simple solar geometry. The results from these models show that hybrid off-grid systems are a feasible solution to install in place of grid connected systems. Results also show that systems which serve multiple households are the most cost effective solution as they reduce capital costs by 200% in comparison to single household systems.




vi, 117 p. : col. ill., col. maps Honors project-Smith College, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 76-78)