Why research communication is pivotal for research projects

Solar panels on a rooftop in an urban center. Next to the roof is a palmtree
Solar panels at one of the field sites of the EnerSHelF project

Interview with Jonas Bauhof and Susanne von Itter from EADI on the role of communication work for research projects.

EADI is the knowledge and network partner for the EnerSHelF project. Can you explain to us, what is entailed in this role?  

We are responsible of disseminating the project’s research results both to our stakeholders but also the public. For this, we use different forms of communication and are also involved in planning network events and managing the website. By doing so, we aim to enhance the uptake of research results among relevant stakeholders in academia and beyond. It is essential to increase the real-world impact of the EnerSHelF project – also past its funding period. As the leading European network in the field of development studies, EADI can use its network to reach out to relevant outputs and institutions. This helps us to reach out to a broad set of actors in the field.  

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Health-Energy-Nexus: How off-grid energy can play a vital role in quality healthcare provision in Sub-Saharan Africa

Two buildings in rural Ghana, container with solar panels next to them.
EnerSHelF fieldsite: Kologo health centre with the installed solar container

Access to electricity

In 2019, 770 million people were without access to electricity globally[1]. They are left without the possibility of using electric light at night, powering refrigerators and stoves, or charging their phones and other devices. Until 2019, the number constantly decreased but the Covid-19 pandemic reversed the trend. In its World Energy Outlook 2021 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that between 2019 and 2021 the global number of people without access to electricity stuck at its pre-crisis level – after seeing improvements by around 9% annually since 2015[2]. In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), for the first time since 2013, the numbers are likely to have even increased in 2020.

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Continuing the development of the planning tool for micro grids

Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash

In this interview, Paul David Bohn from Cologne University of Applied Sciences talks about his role in the EnerSHelF project. He continues the work of Silvan Rummeny on an advisor and planning tool for Photovoltaic-diesel-hybrid systems.

In autumn 2021, you took over the role of Silvan Rummeny, who was working in work package 3.3. Can you tell us what his – and now your – work entails?

The main subject of work package 3.3. is the development of an advisor and planning tool for micro grids. The acronym for this tool is Micro Grid User Energy Planning TooL (MiGUEL). MiGUEL is used to design, simulate and evaluate Photovoltaic (PV)-diesel-hybrid systems for Ghanaian health facilities. The goal is to provide users with suitable solutions on how to design a cost-effective micro grid, contributing to fulfil the sustainable development goals and affiliated roadmaps. The target groups are project developers, engineering companies, and private as well as public grid operators who want to implement micro or mini grids. Silvan Rummeny started designing MiGUEL and I took over the development since he left EnerSHelF.

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Collecting and processing meteorological data

Interview with Dr. Windmanadga Sawadogo from University of Augsburg. He talks about his recent trip to the EnerSHelF field sites and about processing the collected meteorological data.

You are working in WP 3.2, focusing on high-resolution meteorological forecasts for Ghana. Can you explain how your work contributes to the overall aim of the EnerSHelF project to improve and disseminate marketable PV-based energy solutions for health facilities in Ghana? 

The work of the University Augsburg is to produce weather forecasts for the three pilot sites and to spread the data to different partners in the project. For this, I am working closely with Samer Chaaraoui from the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (H-BRS), as he needs the forecasting data to improve the accuracy of his models for photovoltaic-hybrid systems. Currently, we are at the stage where everything is ready, and we are running the forecasts for the three sites every day. The collected data are kept at our servers at the KIT campus at Garmisch-Partenkirchen while we are waiting for the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) from our partner WASCAL (West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) to upload the data so that everyone can easily access the data.  

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EnerSHelF at the Client II Conference

The EnerSHelF project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Its’ funding measure “CLIENT II – International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovation” finances 64 projects that spread across 32 countries – one of them being EnerSHelF. All of them are working on solutions for climate, energy, environmental, and resource challenges that occur in the partner countries. To foster the exchange between the various projects, the second Client II conference of the funding period took place in the last week of October. It was organised as a hybrid event with project’s being able to join from anywhere in the world but also meet in person at the event’s venue “Umweltforum”, Berlin.

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Interview with the EnerSHelF project leaders

In September, Prof. Katja Bender and Prof. Stefanie Meilinger – project leaders of EnerSHelF – talked with the Bonn Sustainability Portal about the project. You can now read the English version below.

Dear Prof. Bender, dear Prof. Meilinger, you are both coordinating the project “Energy Self-Sufficiency for Health Facilities in Ghana” – EnerSHelF – at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. What are the goals of the project?

In Ghana, like in many developing countries and emerging market economies, blackouts are a common phenomenon. This is critical – especially for health facilities – as the care for patients relies on a reliable energy supply. Without electricity, operations and other procedures are not possible during the night, important instruments are malfunctioning, or the cooling circle of life-saving vaccines and medications are disrupted.

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Succesful data collection at 200 health facilities

Over the course of this summer, ten enumerators conducted the survey at 200 health facilties for the EnerSHelF project. The enumeration was led by Dr. Kennedy Alatinga and Ana Maria Perez. Read more about the data collection in the interview with Ana Maria Perez below. At the end of the interview, you find impressions by the enumerators.

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EnerSHelF at the “Erneuerbare Energien” Podcast

© Fabian Tenk: Recording of the podcast with EnergieAgentur.NRW

At the end of July, Stefanie Meilinger from H-BRS and Steven Denk from WestfalenWIND were invited by EnergieAgentur.NRW to talk about the EnerSHelF project at their podcast “Erneuerbare Energien”. It is now available on their website.

In the podcast, Stefanie Meilinger and Steven Denk introduce EnerSHelF and answer various questions about the project. The questions range from broader perspectives on why reliable energy supply is so important for health facilities up to technical specifications of the system. This includes how to plan a PV system and how to integrate different parameters that influence its size and functionality. Furthermore, they elaborate on the interdisciplinarity of the project and underline the importance of a close collaboration with local partners. Listen to the podcast below to learn more!

Constant adjustments and improvement

© Mohammed Abass: Installation of the new inverter

Mohammed Abass from our project partner WestfalenWIND travelled to Ghana to adjust and improve the PV-hybrid power system at the health facility in Kologo. 

When putting research into practice, the reality often calls for adjustment of foregone planning. Just like other initiatives, the EnerSHelF project is undergoing constant evaluation, adjustments, and improvements. In our previous article, we described the process of training local enumerators to conduct quantitative interviews at health facilities across Ghana. Here, the training week was followed by a pilot study before the main survey at 200 health facilities started in July. The test run helped to identify any necessary changes in the questionnaire and survey design.

On the engineering side of the project, the solar-hybrid systems at the health facilities of our three pilot sites need constant checks to evaluate if they are running as planned. Many adjustments can be done remotely via sensors and software, which has been set-up by our technicians and researchers. However, certain work must be done at the site.

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Health facility survey: 80% of the data collection completed

Local enumerators at work
© EnerSHEelF

Update: In July, a group of ten local enumerators started interviewing 200 health facilities all over Ghana. Prior to the start of the survey, they have been trained by Ana Maria Pérez from Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg and Kennedy Alatinga from SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies in Wa. After an intensive training week and a test run of the survey in June, the data collection is well on track. Until now, around 80% of the health facilities have been interviewed. The survey is set to be completed during the month of August.