A total of 2 380 people have been trained in different solar energy aspects through Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (SOLTRAIN) in the SADC region since inception in 2009.
This emerged at a three-day SOLTRAIN IV - First Dissemination Training Workshop for experts and professionals held at the University of Botswana on March 2, 2020.
Participants of the workshops are experts and professionals and purpose is to train them to be able to understand solar water heating systems, design, build and Install such systems.
So far 87 courses have been held to equip participants with knowledge on designing, building and installation of solar thermal systems.
The initiative which is now in its fourth phase is funded by Austrian Development Cooperation and Co-funded by OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) with Botswana as one of six partner countries in SADC region. Participants include UB staff, tertiary and research institutions, governmental bodies, housing developers and staff of companies who are stakeholders in solar thermal systems.
Speaking at the official opening, Faculty of Engineering and Technology Deputy Dean, Dr Olefile Molwane also observed that 221 solar thermal systems ranging from two to 600m2 collector areas per system have been installed in previous three SOLTRAIN phases.
Dr Molwane said the project focused on reducing energy poverty by improving access to sustainable energies, specifically solar thermal solutions. “That will directly contribute towards attainment of SDG7 and indirectly to SDG 1, SDG 12 and 13,” said Dr Molwane.
Clean Energy Research Centre Director, Dr Ditiro Setlhaolo, said SOLTRAIN was designed to support and contribute to the implementation of different energy policies in targeted SADC countries as well as to enhance the use of solar thermal systems.
University of Botswana Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC) Lecturer, Dr Kevin Nwaigwe, said SADC members have access to solar irradiation with more than 2000 kwh/m2 annual radiation to rely on to reduce electricity demand and consequently reducing environmental effects such as CO2 emissions caused by fossil power plants.