The Energy Commission has established a Memorandum of Understanding with the CSIR to offer an opportunity for students, teachers, and schools to reap financial benefits from projects in renewable energy challenge.
Mr Oscar Amonoo-Neizer, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, said the collaboration between the Commission and CSIR underscored their commitment to nurturing innovation and propelling these remarkable projects towards real-world implementation.
Mr Amonoo-Neizer was speaking at the launch of the Energy Commission’s Senior High Schools Renewable Energy Challenge.
This year’s event is on the theme:” Mechanised Small-Scale Agriculture Using Renewable Energy Technologies.”
He said the winning project from last year’s competition, a solar dehydrator, which was developed by Kpedze Senior High School, had been entrusted to the CSIR for further refinement and enhancement.
The Executive Secretary said the project when completed would be commercialized and promoted for use in processing agricultural produce.
“We eagerly anticipate showcasing the final product during the upcoming finals on October 17, 2023,” he added.
Mr Amonoo-Neizer said the Challenge was born out of the Commission’s mandate under the Renewable Energy Act, 2011 (Act 832), which was to promote the development and efficient use of renewable energy resources through public education, training, and regulation of entrepreneurs in the sector.
It is also to facilitate the mainstreaming of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and programmes into the curriculum of educational and training institutions.
He said aligned with the Commission’s mandate to promote public education, they collaborated with the Ghana Education Service to raise awareness and enhance the education of SHS students regarding renewable energy technologies and their practical applications.
The Schools Challenge serves as a platform to foster renewable energy-focused research and development among students while also facilitating mentorship programmes that encourage the transformation of ideas into impactful and commercially viable solutions.
He said the programme was designed to equip students with the skills and mindset needed to actively contribute to the advancement of renewable energy and shape a sustainable future.
“We aspire to overcome the prevalent ‘chew, pour, pass, and forget’ mentality in our educational system by promoting the practical application of theoretical knowledge,” he added.
Mrs Gifty Ampofo, the Deputy Minister of Education in charge of TVET, said the country was facing a pressing challenge that impacted both the educational institutions and industries that propelled the economy.
She said the challenge was the disconnect between academia and industry, which had impeded growth, stifled innovation and hindered the realisation of intellectual potential.
The Deputy Minister said it was imperative that “we take action to bridge this gap and establish a robust partnership between academia and industry, in order to benefit our society as a whole.”
She said one effective approach was to promote research and development in secondary schools by fostering the transformation of ideas and concepts into tangible projects and product development.
She said in recent times, the world had witnessed an increasing demand for sustainable solutions across various sectors, including agriculture.
“With a rapidly growing global population, it is crucial that we explore alternative approaches to meet the ever-expanding food requirements while minimising the adverse environmental impacts,” he added.
She said the concept of mechanised small-scale agriculture utilising renewable energy technologies perfectly embodies this necessity.
She urged schools to direct their attention to various stages of the agricultural process, encompassing activities such as land preparation, production, harvesting, processing, and storage.
Mr Daniel Krull, the German Ambassador to Ghana, said renewable energies offered important competitive advantages for example with regard to supply security and cost effectiveness.
Schools selected for this year’s challenge in the Greater Accra Region are Chemu SHS, Wesley Grammar, Olams SHS, Kinbu SHTS, Presbyterian Boys SHS, Ebenezer SHS, Accra Technical Training Centre, Kwabenya Community SHS, and Accra High.