In a significant step towards supporting the government’s green economy initiatives, JKUAT launched a solar electrification project at Gachororo Primary School on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, worth 7000 USD. This project made possible through the Student Energy Guided Projects Program, plays a vital role in providing sustainable power to the school throughout the day, effectively addressing the current lighting challenges faced by the students.
Led by the JKUAT Association of Green Energy (JAGE), comprising of a dedicated team of BSc. Renewable Energy and Environmental Physics students, the project aims to create an optimal learning environment by ensuring a reliable electrical supply that aligns with the competence-based curriculum.
The system has twelve solar panels, a battery with a capacity of 5,000 watt-hours and a backup battery with a capacity of 5,000 watt-hours, a converter for switching from direct current to alternating current, and a changeover for switching from the Kenya Power electricity to the solar option.
Prior to beginning the project, the students underwent comprehensive training in project management and solar photovoltaic system installation through the Student Energy program. They then conducted feasibility assessments at various schools in Juja, selected an appropriate contractor, and successfully executed the project’s installation at Gachororo Primary School.
While commissioning the project, JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said the project exemplified the crucial synergy between higher education institutions and the communities they serve as well as the significance of offering workable solutions to the difficulties they face.
“This initiative project signifies more than just the culmination of academic pursuits; it is a symbol of the profound connection between higher learning institutions like JKUAT and the communities we serve,” Prof. Ngumi said in a speech read on her behalf by the Dean School of Electrical, Electronics and Information Engineering, Prof. Stanley Kamau.
The project, she said, would significantly improve the students’ learning environment and change the lives of the pupils by giving them access to clean, dependable, and economical electricity for lighting.
She further thanked the organizations involved in the project for providing the students with a platform and the opportunity to showcase their innovations on an international stage.
“Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge the mentors from Astonfield Solar and the Engineering Procurement and Construction Company, SolarNow. Your guidance and expertise have not only shaped this project but have been instrumental in translating academic knowledge into practical solutions that benefit society,” the Vice Chancellor observed.
While receiving the official signed documents to mark the official Handover, the Gachororo School headmaster, Mr. Joseph Njenga, thanked JKUAT and all the project stakeholders, stating that the solar project will address a variety of challenges including high electricity bills and dependable electricity supply for the primary and junior secondary.
“This project aligns with global climate solutions and will be critical in ensuring that students make the most of their classroom time,” Mr. Njenga said.
He went on to say that the project will also improve lighting surrounding the school, increasing security and making it more appealing to students.
Ambrose Michura, the President of JAGE, highlighted that academia often places primary emphasis on research and theoretical endeavors. While these aspects are undoubtedly crucial, they may not always directly correlate with the practical and business-oriented skills that are essential for students’ employability.
“We set out to strengthen what we have learnt, infuse it with the most recent industry expertise, and engage in practical research to tackle real-world challenges by establishing university-industry cooperation. Following a rigorous evaluation procedure, the JKUAT team was chosen as the sole representative from Africa for the Student Energy Guided Solar Projects,” Ambrose explained.
He also emphasized that the project not only provided sustainable energy but also seamlessly integrated with the competency-based curriculum, ensuring that future generations derive lasting benefits. This, he believes, underscores JKUAT’s unwavering commitment to the community.
Michura conveyed his gratitude to Student Energy for welcoming their participation in the program and for extending financial support, which was instrumental in making the project a reality.
“This highlights the significance of partnerships between academia and industry in positively transforming lives,” concluded the Club President.