Development project (EnDev), an energy access partnership funded by six donor countries (United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands), and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has completed a five day training for over sixty (60) Solar Mini Grid Technicians from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. It was the first supra-regional training for all three countries of its kind.
The training was done in collaboration with the operators (PowerGen, Energicity and Winch Energy) of the 50 Mini Grids developed by the Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP), funded by the UK Department for International Development, and implement by UNOPS in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and technicians from three Mini-Grids from the PRESSD project (EU/WHH) and the three mini grids from Plan/EU in Liberia The Mini Grid operators were specifically targeted to capacitate their technicians to be able to operate, maintain and troubleshoot the Mini Grids. For Guinee it might have been the first mini-grid workshop of its kind.
The training was conducted by technical experts from Germany, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In order to give the training the required balance, experts were drawn from some big players in the Solar industry. Tim Malzfeld represented SMA, Ulrich Preuss represented Hoppecke, Nicolas Rohrer represented Asantys
Opening remarks by the director of EnDev Mano River Union, Hartlieb Euler urged participants to make full use of this training and networking opportunity and learn as much as possible from experts and each other. He stressed the importance of regular maintenance of systems the need for projects to set aside funds for maintenance and repair. Most solar systems, especially streetlights, but as well private homes and social institutions are breaking down without available funds for repair. Often the poor quality of the material used is an issue too.
The training dealt with both theoretical and practical aspects of solar Mini Grid installation, troubleshooting and maintenance. The teaching materials also contained simulations of real-life scenarios to show practical demonstrations of the subject matter.
Day 3 of the training focused on the networking of stakeholders in the Renewable Energy Sector in Sierra Leone and as well between the countries. Representatives from the Ministry of Energy, EWRC, REASL, Off-Grid Working Group, UNOPS, RREA and the Mini Grid operators presented their institutions and their current activities in the sector.
The last two days of the training focused on practical exercises, with participants going through the rigorous training schedule to understand the concept and some appliances better. A field trip followed on the final day to one of the RREP project Mini Grid sites in Petifu where participants had access to see how all the concepts taught fit together. Participants were separated into three work groups: Battery (Hoppecke), Inverter (SMA) and Panels (Asantys) so that each group can have a better understanding of the components.
Presentation of certificates climaxed the end of the training session