The Vice president of the Takoradi Technical University, Rev. Prof. John Frank Eshun, on Thursday, December 16, officially inaugurated the new Solar Training Centre, a facility committed to increasing the employment rate of young university students in the solar industry by shaping their skills and knowledge early on in a way the industry needs.
The training centre and internship programme that follow the training were made possible by two leading players in the solar energy industry, GREEN Solar Academy and Valentin Software, with support from develop PP, 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 Ghanaian installer and distributor of solar equipment.
The Solar Training Centre is a dedicated space at the TTU campus that from now on will be the home of practical and application-focused solar photovoltaic training. It has been equipped with the latest material to offer practical solar trainings tailored to the experience of the applicants and the demands of the local PV industry in Ghana. It boasts the latest equipment from leading global solar brands such as Victron Energy, Jinko Solar, Phocos and Fronius.
The practical, hands-on training is based on the successful GREEN Super Solar School, and combined with the internship that follows, is geared towards the needs of the local renewable energy industry in Ghana to ensure that students enter the job market with the right skills to secure employment.
B-Tech graduates and final year students interested in a career in solar energy will spend three weeks focusing on PV basics, planning (manually and with Valentin Software’s PV*SOL), installation, operation, maintenance and economic aspects. University lecturers have already spent a year undergoing technical and didactical training with GREEN Solar Academy that qualifies them to teach the content to students.
Following the 3-week training period, an internship programme will be implemented to actively support the employment of these graduates. Interns will be accommodated by companies who are members of the Solar Hub West Africa, a loose network of African and European solar companies cooperating to promote renewable energy in West Africa, and those who demonstrate the right aptitude will be offered permanent employment.
GREEN Solar Academy Director Antje Klauss-Vorreiter explains the significance of this centre: “Our practical, hands-on trainings will increase the employment rate of young university students in the solar industry by involving them in the industry at an early stage to shape their skills and knowledge in a way the industry needs.”
The seeds of this project were first planted when GREEN Solar Academy, Takoradi University, the KYA Energy Group as well as European partners such as Valentin Software formed the cooperation known as The Solar Hub West Africa.
Dr Maame Afua Nkrumah, the Dean of International Programmes and External Linkages Office at Takoradi Technical University, explains, “I realised we had found in GREEN Solar Academy the partner we need to establish solar training at Takoradi Technical University. We are excited to train our students starting from 2022 in our state-of-the-art photovoltaic workshop.”
Equipping the centre was made possible through collaboration with global solar brands such as Phocos, Victron, Jinko Solar and Fronius, as well as through a partnership with successful Ghana solar installer and distributor, Tino Solutions, who has supported the centre with Victron Energy inverters and batteries and Jinko Solar modules.
Postino Dugle, the owner of Tino Solutions, says, “As an active player in this industry, we came on board from the start as we believe this project is what the solar industry in Ghana has been waiting for. This is the sort of project that will open doors for those who would otherwise be leaving university as theoretical engineers alone. The project aims at setting certain standards for the solar industry: preparing young graduates for the practical situation of installing renewable energy systems, exposing them to the use of quality products in installations, and connecting them with the solar companies seeking staff.”
“We are also excited about receiving interns from the first crop of graduates because we know that they will have a solid basis in the realities of the design and installation of solar power – we don’t have to train them up from ground zero, because they’re already at level 1. And those who are deemed to be assets will be absorbed into our core team as full-time employees.”
The Solar Training Centre at TTU will hold its international inauguration in mid-February 2022, when representatives from the global partners involved in its creation will travel to Ghana to attend the festivities, and will start to operate officially on a full-time basis shortly after that.
Students are welcome to enquire about the first 3-week pilot training held at TTU next year and can send requests to Stephen Afonaa-Mensah at[email protected].
Solar companies who are interested in participating in the internship programme and contributing to upskilling youth in the PV industry are kindly asked to contact Dennis Wiredu-Asare at[email protected].