Clean Energy 4 Africa

By: Mohamed Tarig, renewable energy engineer, Qatar

As one of the most trending topics nowadays and due to its constantly evolving nature, the solar PV industry requires continuous studying and follow-up to remain on track. This article discusses the main steps required by university students to adapt and build up the required skills to blend in the working environment coming ahead down the path.

We will consider Sudanese universities here as an example. Firstly, the majority of Sudanese universities, especially at the undergraduate level tend to rely more on theoretical approaches rather than practical ones. This results in a wide learn-apply gap for the students and in turn being less qualified in the work pool. Also, the curriculums set for these fields (renewables) are very limited and shallow, which would make the student suffer in professional engineering practice due to frequent information gaps and shortage.

So what can you do as an undergraduate student in such conditions?

I encourage undergraduate students to maximize the benefits during this period by exploring and utilizing their university’s facilities and resources such as interning with research institutes. For instance, the University of Khartoum’s Energy Research Center offer several courses and training programs in solar PV systems. In addition, the National Energy Research Center at Soba, offers several opportunities where students can conduct their final year projects or the one-year national service program behind its walls.

Moreover, another method for developing yourself in this field is definitely going to be mastering simulation tools. Simulation software are highly recommended in the solar industry and are in fact crucial for designing PV systems and getting a deeper insight into the factors affecting performance such as temperature, cable losses, soiling, shading, inverter clippin .etc. One of these software is Helioscope, which is an online-based simulation platform (offers 30-day trial) for grid-connected PV systems design, that is known for its simplicity in designing and generating reports making it an excellent kick-off for junior engineers. A more advanced simulation software is PVSyst, where multiple PV systems’ configurations (grid-connected, stand-alone, water pumping…etc.) can be simulated on a professional level due to its detailed and complex architecture. PVSyst is often relied upon and requested by engineering consulting firms to review and approve system design and parameters. Furthermore, there are numerous other simulation software that are useful to enhance your skills and master PV systems design.

Finally, seeking internships and workshops opportunities is profoundly essential and will familiarize the student with the actual work environment (especially in developing and initiating PV project proposals) and will help in developing good connections with professionals in this industry. Most solar companies in Sudan are located in Khartoum State, nonetheless, their projects are all over the country, which provides a good chance for students outside Khartoum to be involved. Good reputable companies to consider for internships are: The Sudanese Electricity Distribution Co., Solarman Co. Ltd., and Salma Smart Solutions. Students targeting internships are advised to research about prospective employers in LinkedIn and other online sources.

Mohamed Tarig
Mohamed Tarig

I am Mohamed Tarig, an electrical engineer who dedicated his experience to solar energy, after receiving my B.Sc. from University of Khartoum in 2017. What usually drives me towards this field is trying eagerly to meet the constantly increasing energy demand in the most sustainable means to protect the environment and preserve natural resources. I worked as a project engineer since the beginning of my career and currently working with a private solar company in Qatar.

featured image credits

Tags:

Mohamed Alhaj

Dr. Mohamed Alhaj is a Sudanese renewable energy engineer and researcher with a strong interest in the role of clean energy in Africa's sustainable development.

5 comments on “Professional Development for University Students in the Solar Industry

  1. Very useful article. I suggest, since you have experience in the field, to write another to talk more about the job in practice (i.e. requirements, duties, professional certificates…etc). Thanks again for the article.

    1. Great suggestion Reem. I will forward this to the writer to follow up. Be sure we will have more technical content on job skills coming up soon, so stay tuned!

  2. I would like to add after checking the links in the article, National Energy Research Center link takes you to the general website but the one for energy is broken, Salma Smart Solutions is also broken.

    1. Regarding the NERC, we couldn’t find a working website, hence we added the general NCR website, which is the parent organization.
      Salma Smart website works fine. I just tried it now. Recheck with a VPN. Maybe that will help.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: