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Green energy skills development vital as African demand for solar soars

Published: 10 October 2023

Africa is blessed with around 60% of the best solar resources globally, yet features only 1% of the world’s installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. This highlights the substantial growth opportunities in the solar industry on the African continent, given that approximately 600 million people still lack access to electricity.

In fact, the IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022 states that solar PV is already the cheapest source of power in many parts of Africa, and will outcompete all sources across the continent by 2030, emphasizing the unlimited potential for this sector.

One of the greatest barriers to unlocking this wealth of potential is a lack of human capacity.

SPS cultivating solar proficiency among Seychelles' engineers and technicians

The recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt highlighted the need for urgent skills development in the green economy, particularly among African youth. At the conference, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first Jobs for Youth Pact in partnership with the UN and other agencies. The pact aims to close the skills gap for young people in developing countries. Its goals include creating one million green jobs, supporting the greening of one million existing jobs, and helping 10,000 green entrepreneurs.

From this and other pledges made during the event, it is evident that industry-led skills development in the green energy sector is now imperative. As demand for solar PV systems increases, and the continent pursues an active energy transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy, the need for skilled installers, technicians, and engineers – and the correct training thereof – will rise too.

Adequate training is a non-negotiable. Aside from the safety risk, poor-quality installations undermine the efficacy and longevity of solar as a reliable power source. This leaves business owners and households with underperforming that seldom realize projected investment returns.

Such training should encompass more than just the basics of solar system installations. It should include:

  • The various solar PV system components and their functions
  • Different system configurations for maximum energy output
  • Solar yield assessments and how to interpret them
  • Electrical design and safety
  • Commissioning and performance testing of a solar system
  • Operating and maintaining PV systems
  • Best practices and experiences from the field, key to designing and building solar plants for a 25-year operational lifespan.

This provides trainees with a holistic understanding of solar PV systems, how they work, and their differing applications depending on the client’s electricity needs, solar resource, and site-specific realities.

SPS Empowers Seychelles Through Solar PV Training

SPS's Axel Scholle (Co-founder) & Dominique Rachel (Operations & Maintenance Technician) facilitating solar PV training in Seychelles

Sustainable Power Solutions (SPS) was recently requested to provide in-depth training to technicians and engineers from the local power utility and regulator in Seychelles as part of that country’s transition towards greener energy.

The country has played little part in the climate change crisis it currently faces, but is showing sound leadership in doing its part to help mitigate it. Seychelles currently relies heavily on diesel and other fossil fuels for its electricity generation. However, it has set an ambitious target of achieving a 15% renewable energy supply by 2030. This will not only move it away from expensive, polluting fuels, but also create job opportunities, drive local industries, and attract local and foreign investment.

SPS’s training included on-grid solar PV systems aimed at its main electricity market; the fundamentals of PV systems in terms of technology, operation and output; high-level insights into the financial considerations of PV systems; and insights around residential and commercial/ industrial segments.

For the past 14 years, SPS has been working with clients across Africa to bring affordable, clean energy solutions to their businesses. The company’s solutions help clients cut electricity costs and carbon emissions, delivering a sustainable approach to power. For more information about green energy skills development/ training opportunities, please get in touch with SPS.