Media statement by Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs
Durban University of Technology has the first renewable energy German trained engineer to spearhead and advocate environmental-friendly pilot projects in KwaZulu-Natal. The RENAC (Academy for Renewable Energy) organization together with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety granted Prof Ramu Naidoo a scholarship to train as a renewable energy engineer in Berlin, Germany.
The RENAC organization based in Berlin, Germany performs training in Renewable energy engineering in cooperation with international institutions and experts, who have many years of expertise in the field of knowledge transfer of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Prof Naidoo has established collaboration with important partners such as the Production Technology Center (PTC) of the Technical University of Berlin and the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (Technische Fachhochschule Berlin, TFH).
Prof Naidoo received training in the following aspects relating to renewable energy academics: Fundamentals of the technologies: photo-voltaic, solar thermal, solar-thermal power plants, wind power, bio-energy, geothermal power and energy efficiency in the building sector and for industry and commerce. Instruments available for implementation: advantages and disadvantages, necessary conditions Costs, feasibility, funding opportunities, overview of possible incentives, details on costs and financing the necessary infrastructure, effort required for operation and maintenance, qualification requirements.
As a renewable energy engineer in training, Prof Naidoo has acquired knowledge in planning, installation, operation, monitoring and maintenance of both photovoltaic systems (grid and off-grid systems) and solar-thermal plants. He further learnt to integrate this knowledge with existing conventional energy systems and other renewable energy technologies. In addition to the technical content, he also gained skills in costs, economics, finance, and maintenance, insurance, marketing and sales. Practical training in the Center of RENAC-Berlin allows the participating engineers to apply their knowledge through “hands-on” planning, installation, operation and monitoring of renewable-energy and energy-efficiency technologies. The Training Center is equipped with components for solar thermal, photovoltaic, bio-energy, heat pump and small wind-power generators as well as other professional training equipment. In addition it includes laboratory equipment for electrical engineering, energy-efficiency technologies, demonstration equipment for practical experiments.
It was particular interesting to note that simulation software for simple testing and computer workstations for plant design, simulation, calculation and research were used as part of the training. Solar-thermal power (Concentrated Solar Power, CSP) is a power-plant technology with huge potential for sunny South Africa. It requires a high degree of planning and investment. A large number of experts and decision makers are involved in the planning, construction and operation of a CSP in Germany. Trainee engineers were requested to consider the technological options, yields, business environment, cost and funding opportunities for a CSP operation.
At the Unit for Advanced Computer Modeling and Technology Enhanced Learning, four students are pursuing research towards Master’s and Doctoral degrees in renewable energy. Students are establishing innovations in renewable energy engineering and design. Simulation software is currently being researched extensively in the Unit. The Unit is in a process of establishing itself as a leader in renewable energy in UKZN especially in the coastal region. Prof Naidoo will conduct seminars to deepen knowledge in renewable energy for interested staff, students and industry. Courses will be defined in conjunction with Berlin University of Applied Sciences (TFH), material prepared and then integrated into the discipline of the lecturer or student. The platform will offer the participants a unique opportunity after the seminar for practical study, alongside their discipline. The Unit plans to setup a renewable energy measuring station where all Renewable Energy practitioners in South Africans can send their design for evaluation or elicit information on their projects.
Prof Naidoo is embarking on a pilot project with Ethekwini Municipality to apply small scale wind turbines to light up their parks in case of power outages. “Should this project be successful, we will be in a good position to move into rural communities to provide renewable energy for Community Centers, Clinics, or schools,” said Prof Naidoo.
Prof Naidoo’s main objectives are training engineers to manage renewable energies in the South African context, reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy and reduce the carbon footprint.
Renewable energy is environmental-friendly. The projects on renewable energy may lead to the creation of manufacturing companies for solar panels and wind turbines thus creating much needed jobs in KZN.
For more information, please contact Bhekani Dlamini on 031 373 2845 to facilitate the interview.