The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) and the Solar Revolving Fund (SRF), in collaboration with the GIZ Green People’s Energy (GPE) project and the Namibia Energy Institute (NEI), recently held a refresher training at Otjiwarongo for registered renewable energy service providers.
The main purpose of the workshop, which took place from 25-29 September, was to improve service delivery in the provision of renewable energy, mostly solar solutions, in off-grid areas.
The training also aimed to familiarise the service providers with new trends in renewable energy technologies, update them on the operations and administration of the SRF as well as share good practices on improving renewable energy systems installations.
Presentations focussed on solar systems sizing and inspections, components of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, storage batteries, factors affecting solar power system efficiency, criteria for cable selection, maintenance of solar PV systems and opportunities for installers under the SOLTRAIN+ project.
The Acting Director of Energy Funds at MME, Anna Libana, in welcoming participants to the workshop, said the training offered a platform for both theoretical and practical sessions on RE systems and an exchange of knowledge and experiences of those involved in the provision of the systems to end-users.
“While the renewable energy technologies development and the industry evolve over time, there is a missing link between high quality products and the implementation workforce of which should not be neglected. Instead, the supply of both high-tech energy systems and trained service providers must be guaranteed,” Libana said in remarks read on her behalf by SRF Deputy Director Ishuna-Niita Amakutsi.
One of the training facilitators, Elias Siteketa, who has undergone extensive training on solar technologies in Germany, emphasised the need for continuous skills transfer to those involved in the installation and maintenance of solar technologies in Namibia.
He said most installers, especially those based in the northern parts of the country, live far away from institutions that offer appropriate training to solar technicians.
“As a results the installers are not updated on the modern trends. Since 2019 there was no refresher course on solar technologies conducted but in the meantime so much has happened as far as solar technologies are concerned,” said Siteketa.
He emphasised the need for continuous training on testing, inspection and commissioning of renewable energy systems that the installers handle. He said currently most installers were just installing systems for clients but did not monitor them.
Siteketa said the solar market in Namibia had grown over the years underlining the need to have more qualified technicians.
“The pricing of solar systems has also been changing and the solar technicians working with the Solar Revolving Fund need to be familiarised with the latest prices so that they quote their clients correctly,” he said.
Renewable Energy Consultant Lilongeni Unoovene said it was important that the people on the ground (the renewable energy services providers) are equipped with the right skills in order to provide quality products and service that reflect good value for the money spent.
“Since the SRF uses taxpayers’ money to provide the low interest loans, it is important that this money is spent properly to give good value to consumers. We must have quality standards that everybody in the industry adheres to,” he said.
Apart from enabling skills transfer, Unoovene said the workshop was a good platform for networking.
Eliakim Hangala, from Omana Investments in Walvis Bay, said he was attending the SRF training for the first time and that he was able to have an opportunity to interact with other players in the industry.