From Felix Ikem, Nsukka

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman has inaugurated the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Phase 1 Solar Photovoltaics (PV) mini grid field laboratory for the teaching of conventional and alternative energy generation.

The Minister inaugurated the project at the weekend as part of activities lined up for the university’s 52nd convocation ceremony. He said that the energy park (Solar Photovoltaics (PV) mini grid field laboratory) will help to train people within and outside the university the requisite skills and capacity building needed for various forms of energy generation.

“I commend the University of Nigeria for this wonderful project which will help to train not only staff and students of the University but also interested members of the public on the many ways of handling energy generation, transmission, and distribution. This is the type of project the nation needs to support and find solutions to the energy challenges facing the country,” he said.

The Minister who was represented by Mrs. Rakiya Ilyasu, Director of University Education in the Federal Ministry of Education commended the Vice-Chancellor of the university Prof. Charles Igwe for the many projects executed by his administration.

Igwe commended the World Bank, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Federal Ministry of Education, and others for providing funds and support to UNN to execute the projects. The VC however, solicited more funds and support to enable the institution to carry out more projects.

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Commenting, Prof. Emenike Ejiogu, the Director, Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Power and Energy Development (ACE-SPED) UNN, said that the energy park was part of the proposal to the World Bank and African Development Bank in the grant that established ACE-SPED.

“One aspect of the ACE-SPED is to train people on Masters and PhD degrees in several areas that connect to energy as a way of achieving sustainable energy development. In the Centre, we combine theory with required practicals by training staff, students, corporate bodies, and ministries on energy generation, transmission and distribution systems,” he said.

Ejiogu who is also the Dean Faculty of Engineering, said further that the energy park is a huge facility for the Centre for Sustainable Power adding that the park will produce the manpower to man such energy systems in both conventional and alternative energy generation.

“This park is like an open field laboratory meant for training, as we need intensive training to develop skilled manpower. When the entire project is completed it will help in solving the problem of power generation, transmission, and distribution because not having enough skilled manpower is part of the problem facing the energy sector,” he said.

Ejiogu explained that the Energy Park with the Sola mini-grid, also has other forms of electricity generation such as Mini hydro grid that is conventional power generation, Using a Thermal System, as well as Wind Biodigester System (Biogas), among others. He noted that the idea of the park is to have a place where various forms of energy generation are demonstrated.