In April 2019, the Institute of new Energy Systems (InES) of Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt (THI) has launched a new project on sustainable energy supply in rural Africa. PROCEED (short for ‘Pathway to Renewable Off-Grid Community Energy for Development’) has been developed by three founding members of the Bavarian Research Institute of Africa Studies (BRIAS). With THI leading, the project consortium consists of the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), the University of Bayreuth (UBT) as well as the industry partner IBC Solar AG, based in Bad Staffelstein, Bavaria.
More than half of the population in the rural areas of Namibia has no access to electricity. Connecting these households to the national grid is neither technically nor economically feasible. At the same time, the lack of access to electricity remains one of the biggest obstacles to poverty alleviation and industrialisation. Despite the abundant solar, wind and biomass resources in the country, renewable energy (RE) based systems feed just under 20% into the national grid.
This is why, in order to secure and expand the energy supply in Namibia’s rural areas, the Bavarian researchers focus on RE and off-grid hybrid energy systems (HES), so called mini-grids. Mini-grids are decentralised, small-scale power grids operated by local suppliers that are not integrated into the main national grid. Together with the Namibian project partners, the PROCEED team aims at developing decentralised models for an energy infrastructure, which comply with the respective electricity demand, are based on state-of-the-art technology solutions and meet the expectations by the local population. These mini-grids are expected to be economically viable and easy to maintain.
PROCEED is characterised by the targeted linking of technological, social, economic and ecological aspects. To ensure the effective implementation of the initiative, PROCEED is divided into four work packages (WP), with the following priorities: Mini-Grid Community (WP1), Mini-Grid Economics (WP2), Mini-Grid Technology (WP3) and Mini-Grid Sustainability (WP4).
Technology transfer and networking
In addition to the interdisciplinary, the project consortium attaches particular importance to the close cooperation with partners in Namibia. The experience of local partners with the technical and social conditions on site represent a particular added value for the design of new solutions. In Namibia, the following institutions participate in the PROCEED project:
BRIAS: Knowledge and technology transfer with partners in Africa
Founded in 2014, the Bavarian Researc Institute of African Studies (BRIAS) is based on the collaboration between THI, the Universities of Bayreuth and Würzburg as well as the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm in the area of Africa Studies. The multidisciplinary research institute aims at fostering cooperation with partners in Africa and raising awareness of joint objectives within academia, politics and businesses.
PROCEED is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) over a period of three years.