With more than 600 million Africans living without access to electricity and over 730 million relying on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking, fast but sustainable development of African renewable energy markets is needed. Applied research and innovative business roll-outs play a key role in boosting this development, helping to secure energy supply in both rural and urban areas, increase generation capacities and energy system resilience.
With the aim to foster research cooperation on renewable energy – both between universities in Africa and Europe and between academia, private and public sector - the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) organized the second Africa-EU Symposium on Renewable Energy Research and Innovation (RERIS 2018) on occasion of NULSTICE 2018. Aiming to facilitate Africa-EU research collaboration, private and public sector participation in research, business innovation and university spin-offs, the symposium addressed the following thematic areas:
- Power generation
- Decentralised and household energy solutions
- Energy socioeconomics
- Promotion of energy research, innovation, education and entrepreneurship
This 2018 National University of Lesotho International Science and Technology Innovation Conference & Expo (NULISTICE-2018) is meant to provide an opportunity to turn ideas into action. It is expected that the attending scholars from all over the world will share their basic research findings, lessons in university-industry cooperation, successes and failures in commercialization and policy recommendations in any of the areas mentioned above. NULISTICE-2018 and the parallel events combined together are going to be bigger in scope and wider in reach. While the previous events were just one day expos and workshops, this 2018 event will combine together an International Conference & Expo, student’s competitions (proposed Vodacom-NUL Hackathon), Gala Dinner and a Daytrip for the international visitors.
It is meant to be a convergence of international scholars from many areas of Science and Technology with the theme, “Resource Mobilization and Entrepreneurship Action for Development.” The main areas include:
- Renewable Energy,
- Environment and Natural Resources Management,
- Food and Water Safety,
- Climate Change Challenges and Mitigation Strategies,
- Agriculture and Food Security,
- Material Science and Nano-Technology,
- Entrepreneurship and Technology,
- Information and Communication Technology.
You can find the event page of RERIS here.
You can find the conference website of NULISTICE here.
The panel discussion on "How to translate research into practice" addressed a number of challenges that slow down this translation. While the communication between technology-developers with electricity distributors is generally on a good level, the needs of the consumers – especially those in rural communities without access to the grid – are not considered sufficiently. In the specific case of Lesotho, its National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) formulates the aim to foster research – also to address the marginalized consumers – but its implementation remains a challenge. In this context, the panel furthermore stressed the importance for countries like Lesotho to invest in its own production of e.g. PV cells, rather than relying solely on imports.
The session on EU-Africa joint programmes addressed funding and cooperation opportunities for both researchers and private project developers. Horizon 2020 provides a total of EUR 30 billion, of which 5.9 billion are allocated to secure clean and efficient energy. Regarding international cooperation, the programme funds general openness. The opportunity to request support from the European Commission in strengthening capacities to write research proposal was emphasized. The EU delegation to Lesotho outlined the funding opportunities provided by the European Development Fund 11 (2014-2020) with a focus on water, energy and environment.
During various thematic sessions and poster sessions, invited speakers presented their research and innovative projects covering the areas of power generation, distribution and transmission; de-centralised and household energy solutions; energy socio-economics; promotion of energy research, innovation, education and entrepreneurship; and energy resource mapping and planning. All abstracts and presentations are available at the event’s Energypedia page.
In a “cooperation pitch session”, conference partners highlighted cooperation opportunities with the respective organisations related to the event’s focus. These included NUL research & innovations, RECP, GIZ-Lesotho, LCEDN, UniPID, Energypedia, MicroEnergy International, SACREEE, PAUWES, Enigma, Tangerine, and Econet Telecom Lesotho.
On the last day of the conference, MicroEnergy International organized a workshop on “from energy research to bankable power practice”. Energy research and practice often run in parallel, with little knowledge exchange and consideration of the other. Energy practitioners, for example, rarely refer to research outputs, even if peer reviewed and reputable. Energy researchers, on the other hand, rarely prioritise engaging in actual practice implementation, thereby generating research that lacks apparent practical relevance. The workshop triggered a change of perspective on both sides, resulting in the formulation of several business ideas based on research findings.
The conference was concluded with a gala dinner;His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho delivered the keynote address. At the gala dinner, NUL officially launched its Energy Research Center (ERC) and the Master’s programme in Sustainable Energy – both established with the support from the RECP. Furthermore, an MoU was signed between the NUL and the Management Center Innsbruck, and the best RERIS poster was awarded through the head of EU delegation to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
This summarycan be downloaded in PDF format here.
You can download a brochure introducing all of the main Speakers of RERIS 2018 here.