SOLTRAIN 4 demo systems have a social focus so far | policy workshops: Mozambique & Botswana | technical training online | Lesotho solar water heaters
SOLTRAIN 4, Newsletter #4
Social institutions & housing projects make up bulk of demonstration systems so far in SOLTRAIN's fourth phase
Thermal heating and cooling includes a multitude of applications in Southern Africa such as hot water preparation in the household, hospital or hotel sector, space heating and cooling of buildings. In industry, in addition to the drying of agricultural products, it also includes the provision of process heat, such as low-temperature applications in the food and beverage industry.
To illustrate the magnitude of the potential, heating and cooling for private, commercial and industrial purposes accounts for almost 50% of the total final energy demand in Southern Africa.
In order to demonstrate solar thermal systems for the above applications, SOLTRAIN is again supporting the installation of at least 100 demonstration systems in its fourth phase. Since the start of this phase in July 2019, 38 applications for the installation of solar thermal systems have been submitted. Of these, 31 systems with a total collector area of 500 m² have been approved so far.
Some of the solar water heating systems that were built in the Osona Village Project in Namibia
It is noteworthy that companies in Namibia and Zimbabwe have been most active in this phase, with 16 and 10 applications respectively, and that 30 of the approved solar thermal systems directly benefit women or marginalised groups. The applications range from hostels for female students to a training centre for the San Community in Namibia and a maternity clinic in Zimbabwe. The largest systems are those for the Katutura Hospital in Windhoek in Namibia (120 m²) and the solar systems that are being built on apartment buildings in the e-junction project in Cape Town (249 m²).
As already announced in the last SOLTRAIN newsletter, companies that have taken part in the SOLTRAIN training courses can submit applications for funding for demonstration systems to all project partners at any time. For country partners see: https://soltrain.org
Solar thermal policy workshops for Mozambique & Botswana
Earlier in September, SOLTRAIN workshops for policymakers on solar heat were held in Botswana and Mozambique. The workshops marked a departure from the policy workshops held in the other partner countries earlier in the year in that they were conducted online due to travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Botswana workshops were organised by the Clean Energy Research Centre at the University of Botswana and Solar Industry Association of Botswana, while Empresa Nacional de Parques de Ciência e Tecnologia E.P. (ENPCT, E.P.) convened the Mozambique workshop. These institutions are all SOLTRAIN country partners, with the SADC Centre of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) and AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC) providing technical assistance for the workshops.
As part of SOLTRAIN, Solar Thermal Roadmaps are developed for all partner countries, and the aim of the policy workshops is to find ways to accelerate their implementation. The specific aims of the workshops in Botswana and Mozambique were to:
Inform policymakers of the SOLTRAIN project
Work on national measures to implement the Solar Thermal Roadmaps (see below)
Support governmental bodies concerning policies for different application groups
Mobilise national and international funds for the implementation
In attendance at both workshops were senior officials in the ministries responsible for energy, the industry associations, utilities, development finance institutions, banks and other key industry players.
In both countries, national task forces were set up to develop frameworks for the implementation of the solar thermal roadmaps, with the work of the national task forces being coordinated by the partners.
For both Botswana and Mozambique, the government is seeking ways to address the challenges associated with high upfront costs of solar thermal systems as well as those of a technical nature such as quality installations and maintaining good performance of solar thermal systems.
The financial institutions in the respective countries are also willing to support the roll-out of the Solar Thermal Roadmaps, but require clear policy frameworks that will support their implementation in a sustainable manner.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has challenged SOLTRAIN to come up with new and innovative ways to deliver training sessions despite limitations imposed by travel restrictions, with one such innovation being the use of online delivery for technical training.
Using a blended approach, participants from the partner countries, as well as the local SOLTRAIN country partners, meet physically in a meeting room in compliance with the applicable COVID-19 regulations, and the international presenters are connected via online platforms. Existing training materials are disseminated and presented digitally through the use of webcams, projectors, online whiteboards, digital voice recorders and other aids.
This was the format for the first three web-based SOLTRAIN train the trainer courses conducted recently in Gaborone (20 participants), Stellenbosch (7 participants) and Windhoek (14 participants). Each course involved three sessions; two days of coursework and a one-hour meeting for final remarks and awarding of certificates.
Prerequisites for a flawless blended training session included a good quality internet connection and testing the needed infrastructure in advance between the venues. The use of big screens, speakers and microphones provided workable conditions for participants and presenters and facilitated more than adequate knowledge transfer between trainers and delegates, meaning that SOLTRAIN's training activities could continue even as the ability for international presenters to be physically present was curtailed.
While the practical aspects of technical training are always better demonstrated on-site, the blended approach with the online component proved to be a good compromise and in the future, SOLTRAIN plans to conduct intensive online training for trainers, supplemented with practical on-site training as soon as travel restrictions to Southern Africa are eased.
Monika Spörk-Dür and Rudolf Moschik in Austria with remote participants of the train the trainer Course at NUST in Namibia on the screen
Participants of train the trainer Course in Stellenbosch, South Africa
'Blue' solar water heating systems in Lesotho
Submitted by Puleng Mosothoane
Solarsoft, the commercial entity of Lesotho SOLTRAIN partner, the Bethel Business and Community Development Center (BBCDC), is gaining traction with its BBCDC-branded 'blue' solar water heating systems.
The striking blue and white systems are easily recognised around the district of Mohale's Hoek and other areas such as Mafateng and Maseru, and a surge in interest suggests that people are becoming aware of the cost-saving benefits of solar hot water.
Solar water heating systems
IEA SHC's New Website
IEA's Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, the world's largest solar heating and cooling research network, has an updated web presence. Find a project, read a report, listen to a Solar Academy webinar and reach out to solar experts.
The Southern African Solar Thermal Training & Demonstration Initiative is a regional initiative for capacity building & demonstration of solar thermal systems in the SADC region. It is funded by the Austrian Development Agency. Please visit SOLTRAIN on the web at www.soltrain.org for more about the programme.