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Das deutsch-namibische PROCEED-Projektteam bei der Vorbereitung des Verbundvorhabens im „House of Democracy“ der HSS in Windhuk, Namibia, im März 2019. © Clemens von Doderer, HSS Namibia
The German-Namibian PROCEED project team preparing the joint project in the "House of Democracy" of the HSS in Windhoek, Namibia, in March 2019.

PROCEED project start

At the beginning of April, the Institute for New Energy Systems (InES) at the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences (THI) launched a new project for sustainable energy supply in rural Africa: PROCEED (short for "Pathway to Renewable Off-Grid Community Energy for Development").

Interdisciplinary research for sustainable innovation in Africa

At the beginning of April, the Institute for New Energy Systems (InES) at the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences (THI) launched a new project for sustainable energy supply in rural Africa PROCEED (short for "Pathway to Renewable Off-Grid Community Energy for Development") was developed on the initiative of InES by three founding members of the Bavarian Research Institute of African Studies (BRIAS). THI is cooperating as the project manager in the new joint project with the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm and the University of Bayreuth (both BRIAS) and the industrial partner IBC Solar AG from Bad Staffelstein.

In Namibia, more than half of the rural population has no access to electricity. In many parts of the country, connection of households to the national grid is neither technically nor economically feasible. The lack of access to electricity remains one of the biggest obstacles to poverty reduction and industrialisation efforts. Despite the abundant supply of solar, wind and biomass resources, renewable energy (RE) systems account for just under 20 percent of the energy fed into the national grid.

In order to secure and expand the energy supply in remote areas of Namibia, the Bavarian researchers are therefore relying on RE sources and off-grid hybrid energy systems (HES), so-called "mini-grids". These are decentralised, small-scale power grids operated by local suppliers that are not integrated into a unified, interconnected national network. Together with Namibian partners, decentralised models for the energy infrastructure are to be developed which correspond to the respective local electricity requirements, utilise current technical options and are acceptable for the rural population. The island networks should be economically viable and easy to maintain.

PROCEED is characterised in particular by the targeted linking of technological, social, economic and ecological aspects. To ensure the effective implementation of the project, PROCEED is divided into four work packages (WP) focusing on society (WP1), economics (WP2), technology (WP3) and sustainability (WP4).

In addition to the overall coordination of the project, the researchers at THI are responsible for the third sub-project, "Mini-Grid Technology". All technologically relevant aspects are being examined here - from technical analyses of existing energy systems through the determination of consumption profiles and building loads to the optimal design of systems for power generation.

WP1, "Mini-Grid Community", is headed by the University of Bayreuth. Interviews in selected households as well as data collection in rural peripheral regions are exploring the geographic and sociocultural conditions for increased power generation by RE-based HES.

In the sub-project "Mini-Grid Economics" (WP2), scientists from the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm are investigating the question of a cost-covering tariff and payment system for island grids and developing suitable business models for commercial use of the generated electricity.

By formulating practical recommendations for action and developing training programme concepts based on the outcomes of WP1-3, WP4 "Mini-Grid Sustainability" will enable sustainable utilisation in Africa at national and supraregional levels.


Technology transfer and networking

 In addition to interdisciplinarity, the consortium attaches particular importance to close cooperation with local partners in Namibia. For example, findings from past electrification projects from the Namibian Energy Institute (NEI) , Alensy Energy Solutions Pty Ltd and the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Namibia (REIAoN) are not only enriching the analysis of the current situation. The experience of the partners with the local technical and social conditions represents special added value for the creation of new solutions.

At the same time, ongoing exchanges with partner institutions at the national (Ministry of Mines and Energy) and regional (SADC Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, SACREEE for short) level will ensure that the project is in line with the policy agenda. This makes the results a valuable resource for the long-term promotion of RE systems, for instance by the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia based in Windhoek.


BRIAS: Knowledge transfer with partners in Africa

 The Bavarian Research Institute for African Studies (BRIAS), founded in 2014, is based on collaboration between the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences, the University of Bayreuth, the University of Würzburg and the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm in the field of African studies. New research ideas are developed and implemented together with partners in Africa. An important task for BRIAS is the transfer of knowledge to the decision-makers in politics and business. BRIAS is working closely with the new "Africa Multiple" cluster of excellence at the University of Bayreuth.

The 3-year project is being funded with around 1.25 million EUR by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the "FONA3 - Research for Sustainable Development" programme in the "Client II - International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovation" funding area.

 Picture credits: Dr. Clemens von Doderer, HSS Namibia

This article was published online in our catalogue on 21/5/2019. The text is published here courtesy of the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences.

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