A great start for Takoradi’s new Solar Training Centre

Representatives of the Ghana Solar Industry and international partners of the University inaugurated the new Solar Training Centre and launched the 3-week Solar Planner Course for Students.

Takoradi Technical University (TTU) in Takoradi, Ghana yesterday held the international inauguration of its new Solar Power Training Centre, a permanent facility dedicated to solar photovoltaic training and improving the employment prospects of its graduates. TTU and her international partners, GREEN Solar Academy and Valentin Software GmbH, also launched the 3-week Photovoltaic Planner training programme for TTU graduates and final year students. The inauguration was followed by a stakeholder workshop attended by leading lights in the country’s solar energy industry, as well as representatives from many of the international partners involved in the creation of the centre.

The Solar Training Centre at TTU will offer practical solar trainings tailored to the experience of the applicants and the demands of the local PV industry in Ghana and to this end, has been equipped with the latest equipment and course material available worldwide. GREEN Solar Academy and Valentin Software GmbH supported TTU with the training development so that the students can now benefit from the international experience in training and PV system simulation of the two companies.

The handover and commissioning of the centre already took place in December, the inauguration now officially presents the centre to the Ghanaian solar industry and the international project partners. Vivian Bluemel, Technical Director of GREEN Solar Academy, who together with the German Valentin Software is one of the initiators of the project, appreciates the engagement of the university during her speech: “Universities can contribute significantly to a prosperous industry by adapting trends early. By supporting young students to establish themselves in the solar industry, TTU is definitely on the right track because solar energy is a trend that is going to stay.”

Students, stakeholders, lecturers, guests and journalists all gathered for the press conference at the Solar Training Centre

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the inauguration, Dr. Enoch Yeboah Agyepong, Director of the Renewable Energy Association of Ghana (REAG), had this to say:

I desire to see learners who are unafraid to go to the lab and to play around with the equipment. There are students who do not know how to handle equipment, so let’s use this programme and the internship to give more depth to their learning.

After the official opening, the guests were invited on a tour through the new facilities where B-Tech graduates and final year engineering students exploring a career in solar energy will be able to enrol for a 3-week training course in all facets of solar system design and installation. The centre comprises of classrooms, a computer laboratory and purpose-built training roofs where students get a real feel for installing an actual solar system on a roof. Students will be schooled in PV basics, planning (manually and with PV*SOL premium), installation, operation, maintenance and costing, as well as payback periods, all with a strong focus on practical application. On completion, they will have the opportunity to intern with a local installation company, many of whom have already signed pledges and Letters of Intent demonstrating their support for the initiative.

Technical Director of GREEN Solar Academy, Vivian Bluemel, welcoming all the guests to the inauguration of the Solar Training Centre

Prof. (Mrs.) Maame Afua Nkrumah, Dean of International Programmes and External Linkages Office (IPELO) at TTU, explains the importance of this facility for the youth at the university: “Ghana is a country with a high number of graduates, high unemployment among the youth and high levels of solar irradiation – the Solar Training Centre at TTU and the internship programme that follows becomes a sustainable channel to turn challenges into opportunities that will benefit both the individual and the industry at large.”

The inauguration was followed by a stakeholder workshop, which brought together solar industry bodies and key role players in a discussion on how to shape the partnership with TTU to promote PV training and internship opportunities for the youth in the long-term and make it a beneficial experience for students and companies. Many of the participants of the workshop are already members of Solar Hub West Africa, a loose network of African and European solar companies cooperating to promote renewable energy in West Africa.

The training centre and internship programme that follows were made possible due to the joint efforts of TTU and two leading players in the solar energy industry, GREEN Solar Academy and Valentin Software. Financial support has been realised thanks to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Local support in the form of state-of-the-art equipment and commitment to offering the first internships to graduates of the training centre is provided by Tino Solutions, a successful Ghanaian installer and distributor of solar equipment.

Excited guests gather to view the Solar Training Centre Workshop and Training Facilities, such as the mock roof for practical installation

Equipping the centre was made possible through collaboration with global solar brands such as Phocos, Victron, Jinko Solar and Fronius, as well as through the partnership with Tino Solutions, who has supported the centre with Victron Energy inverters and batteries, and Jinko Solar modules.

Are you a student or a solar company and want to know more?

Students who want to get a head-start in their career in solar energy are welcome to inquire about the first 3-week pilot to be held early this year and are invited to contact TTU Senior lecturer Dr. Stephen Afonaa Mensah at safonaamensah@yahoo.com.

Solar companies who are interested in participating in the internship programme and contributing to upskilling youth in the PV industry, or who seek professional solar training for their staff and distributors, can get in touch with Dennis Wiredu Asare, the head of GREEN Solar Academy Ghana, at ghana@solar-training.org.

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