The Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC) has announced a partnership with the Copperbelt University (CBU) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to boost Zambia’s capabilities and capacity to implement solar energy projects.
The cooperation involving solar energy curriculum development and renewable energy development training commences at the time CEC is constructing Zambia’s first grid-scale solar project. The solar energy curriculum is being developed for CBU’s Master of Science in Electrical Engineering course.
CEC’s US$1.5 million 1MW solar plant in Kitwe (“Riverside Solar Project”) will yield 1900MWh per annum over 25 years, and is the first phase of the Company’s planned multi-million investments in solar energy in Zambia. This will position CEC to actively participate in power generation and diversification of the national energy mix.
Signing the Letter of Intent with GIZ and CBU on 1 November 2017, Owen Silavwe, CEC’s Managing Director, reiterated his conviction of the importance of academia moving in tandem with developments in industry. “It is becoming increasingly important to establish close linkages between academia and industry.”
He continued that “CEC is a member of the Education Partnerships for Africa, a cooperation of industry and academia, and we believe that the quality of learning being given in, and obtained from, our institutions of learning largely determines the quality of talent and skill available to industry and the country at large.”
Senior Manager for Corporate Communication and Investor Relations, Chama Nsabika, explains that CEC is committed to diversifying the country’s energy sources to help address power supply challenges which are exacerbated by reliance on a single power generating source.
Zambia’s electricity is predominantly produced from water sources.
“Solar energy is an increasingly important source of clean energy and as demand for solar grows it is imperative that qualified Zambian professionals are available to drive the industry,” Nsabika states.
The solar photovoltaic curriculum will be developed by an experienced academic solar energy specialist provided by GIZ, working with CBU’s Electrical Engineering department teaching staff. Developing the curriculum in tandem with the development of the CEC Riverside Solar plant provides practical experience in aspects such as maintenance, surveillance and grid stability.
Work on the Riverside solar plant commenced in October 2017 and is on track to be completed in February 2018. The new curriculum is expected to be completed in time for the 2018 academic year. CEC’s support to CBU in effectively implementing the solar curriculum includes providing relevant technical information and practical teaching inputs.