August 5 (Renewables Now) - A new solar research centre has been inaugurated earlier this summer in Senegal to test solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and components and help restore the locals’ trust in solar power.
Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Swiss research institute and university, announced last week the opening of the centre in Dakar, called CT2S and founded in conjunction with École Supérieure Polytechnique de Dakar. It has been funded mainly by French fund manager Meridiam, which has solar parks in Senegal, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
EPFL explained that in Africa the risk of purchasing faulty or poorly performing PV equipment is very high so people and businesses do not trust the components they can buy from local suppliers. The new research centre will enable businesses and consumers to test such components, and there are also plans to eventually create a certification system. The centre will also train technicians and advisors engaged in the solar power industry in Senegal. With that it aims to ensure that best practices are followed during solar park installation and maintenance.
Last but not least, CT2S will conduct research into solar system reliability in the harsh conditions of Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Right now it’s really hard to get field data that are reliable and sufficiently documented,” said Nicolas Wyrsch from EPFL’s PV-Lab. He added that discussions are underway with other West African countries to set up similar research centres.
Currently, the centre has four employees and a goal to train about 200 technicians and advisors.