Enoch Bessah and Natei Ermias Benti, could you please introduce yourself and let’s know how you feel about your selection for CIPSEM Dresden short course on environment.
Enoch: I am a PhD student on the Pan African University Initiative of African Union. I am studying Environmental Management at the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences hosted at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. I am very excited about the selection and feel privileged to be part of this prestigious international course.
Natei: I am from, Ethiopia. I received my BSc in Physics from Addis Ababa University and MSc in Environmental Physics from Haramaya University. After completion of my MSc I have worked as Physics lecture at Jigjiga University of Ethiopia. Currently I am a PhD student at Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with specialty area in Energy and Climate Change. I’m proud to be one of the few students selected to take a one-month course CIPSEM Dresden, Germany. This opportunity what I get knowledge from the course and the Professors and I have got experience from other participants and field trips, this is a great input for my PhD research work and my country also.
Can you give us a glimpse into the 76th CIPSEM Dresden UNEP / UNESCO / BMU short course on environment? What is the programme like for you?
Enoch: The programme is about the role of the Energy sector in the current debate of climate change mitigation and how transitions and reforms in the energy sector is a major step in achieving both the COP21 Paris goal of 2˚C as well as the new target of IPCC.
The 76th CIPSEM Dresden UNEP / UNESCO / BMU short course on Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency is a game changer on how I perceived climate change. I have seen the relevance of the field (climate change assessment and modeling) and how Germany worked towards their set target in reducing GHGs emissions especially in the Energy sector. Although, they are not there yet, they have left where they use to be in contributing to global warming.
Natei: The course mainly focused on engineering, social, economic and legal aspects of renewable energy technologies, their implementation and impact on the environment.
The program gave me a lot of experience, I learned and it’s where I made the good friends who are in the states of decision-making position. This was a very interesting course for me. I thought that the course was well prepared and organized; it was structured and easy to follow. So, I am very fortunate.
Enoch Bessah you participated in series of guided city tour by CIPSEM Dresden. Can you share some examples of sustainable practices you observed which could be worth adopting in your home country?
Enoch: The first example and most relevant to me is the dissemination of information. If EPA Ghana will adopt the methods of environmental information flow and education of German Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt), our environmental literacy will increase, and more citizens will be conscious of their practices in relations to Sustainable Development.
Another practice we can adopt is the district energy supply systems we saw at Chemnitz. Municipalities and districts can embark on waste to energy, mini and micro grids solar projects especially in off-grid zones in Ghana.
Benti Natei, do you have any experience to share on the city tours?
Natei: We have seen amazing places for example German Environmental Agency, German biomass research centre, Cheminitz city, SolarWatt. All the people we met were wonderful hosts; they also share a very important experience. The solar thermal settlements built in Cheminitz city, it is amazing that their commitment to having their own resources in the smallest annual solar radiation is very interesting and it is a good experience for annual solar radiation developing countries around equatorial area but there’s a shortage of finance.
Benti Natei, you presented a report on your country, what areas do you think Ethiopia and Africa need to urgently work on?
As my understanding the whole world should increase reliance on renewable energy sources to mitigate climate change. In Africa, traditional biomass has a largest share in the primary energy consumption, which has a direct consequence on deforestation and soil erosion. Therefore, looking for efficient and clean cooking technologies are crucial. In Ethiopia, particularly, the electricity generation is dominated by large Hydropower, which suffers from consistent droughts, so making energy mix and implementation of off-grid rural electrification is a work that is urgently needed.
Enoch Bessah, what is your take on the country report for Ghana?
Enoch: If Ghana can achieve the macroeconomic stability documented in the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies, 2017-2024, SDG 7 should be of priority to the nation. The target of increasing renewable energy to 10% in our energy mix by 2030 in the INDCs @ParisProtocol must be evaluated and monitored annually to see it fulfilled.
The programme took a shot at measures for financing RE and EE. How can we deploy RE and EE financing measures in Africa, looking at Ethiopia and Ghana as examples?
Enoch: In Ghana, the government’s commitment to increasing RE in the energy mix will be a major step in RE and EE financing. Policies on appreciable feed-in-tarrifs to IPP of Renewables will attract more investors to finance RE projects.
Learning from GET FiT, Uganda project on RE risk mitigation can be explored in Ghana. It is working in Uganda and may work in most African countries.
Natei: Financing is one of the largest barriers to the development of sustainable energy in Africa and this is true for both renewable energy and energy efficiency. Successful financing of innovation in renewable energy (RE) requires a better understanding of the relationship between different types of finance and their willingness to invest in RE. My knowledge on financing RE and EE is very limited, so it’s better to escape this question.
Benti Natei which aspect (s) of the courses did you find most interesting and why?
All courses were very pleasant and field-based. The instructors were very interesting and came extremely well prepared. Thus, the lectures were quite interesting. We have learned a lot from touring the country prior to that, I did not have much knowledge on Financing RE & EE, an energy audit and learned so much.
Did you find anything striking at the German biomass research centre that’s significant for Africa?
The German biomass Research Centre (DBFZ) works as a central and independent thinker in the field of energy and material use of biomass on the question of how the limited available biomass resources can contribute to the existing and future energy system with sustainability and high efficiency. As part of the research the DBFZ identifies, develops, accompanies, evaluates and demonstrates the most promising fields of application for bioenergy and the especially positively outstanding examples together with partners from research, industry and public. Establishing collaborations with this institution gives a great input for Biomass Energy Technology in Africa.
Enoch Bessah, can you share specific findings from your visit to the city of Chemnitz that could help Africa and Ghana with respect to energy transition?
Enoch: The Communal energy generation concept of the City of Chemnitz will help Ghana. The solar plants or panels municipal buildings operated by citizens could help Africa. Incentives for individuals who agree to install solar panels (of the government or districts) on their roof to feed the national grid will transform the energy sector in African countries.
Wind, waste-to-energy and solar technologies have a lot of potential for the African energy mix. Can you share some learnings for practical implementation that must be exemplified by developing countries?
Enoch: The flexibility of renewables in the energy mix is one major way to reduce the consistent black out experienced in Africa. They will aid in diminishing baseload in the mix and get rid of them in future. Solar is a major potential in Africa because of the irradiation received all year round due to the position of the continent (majority) to the solar radiation. The reliability of renewables is balanced when solar, wind and waste-to-energy are mixed. Solar power is active during the day while wind is active early in the morning and at sunset to evening. Waste energy will always be available as long as the sources are available. The emergence of renewable energy is an avenue for Africa to change the story of blackout and limited access to electricity. Initiatives like light up and power Africa by African Development Bank is one of the numerous climate funding opportunities Africa may leverage on to change the story for this generation and generation to come.
Natei: Yes, Africa is endowed with large renewable energy resources. Waste management system and Waste to energy technology attracted my attention and I ambition implement it in Africa. In German Cities there are 4 waste bins everywhere, Green bin for paper wastes, Yellow for plastics, brown for bio wastes and black for the others. The recycling of these waste containers will be recycled and delivered to the energy needs of the product that means the biomass energy quality increases.
What would be the take home for you and would you say your expectations are met through CIPSEM Dresden short course on environment?
Natei: My expectations from the short course on environment include: Broaden the horizon of my current research area & deepen my understanding on how to improve my research work further. Keep an open eye whether my current research work becomes “re-inventing the wheel” when other researchers who are conducting in similar research complete faster than me. To get new idea / inspiration for new research work that I can embark on in future. Networking with other researchers to establish future collaboration.
Enoch: Through the 76th short course on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, I have learnt that change of attitude and lifestyle is a major step and most challenging area in achieving climate change mitigation targets. What I have received within this 4 weeks is more than what I expected reading the short introduction to the course on https://tu-dresden.de/bu/umwelt/cipsem/unep-unesco-bmu/next-courses/sc76.
I appreciate the organizers Centre for International Postgraduate Studies of Environmental Management (CIPSEM), sponsors; German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, German Environmental Agency, Technical University of Dresden and partners; UNEP, UNESCO, City of Chemnitz, German Energy Agency (dena), German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ), Eins Energie in Sachsen, SOLARWATT AG, The Centre for Resource Efficiency (ZRE) under the Association of German Engineers (VDI) , adelphi, The Renewables Academy (RENAC) for making SC76 an impactful training. Finally, thanks to ISNAD-Africa initiative of Mentoring Research Programme (MRP) that brought me on board through partnership with CIPSEM.