The Energy Commission, the technical regulator of electricity, natural gas and renewable energy, in collaboration with the Ministries of Energy and Education, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, launched the 4th Edition of the Senior High Schools Renewable Energy Challenge.
This year’s SHS Renewable Energy Challenge, which is on the theme: ‘Mechanised Small-Scale Agriculture Using Renewable Energy Technologies’, was born out of the Commission’s mandate under the Renewable Energy Act, 2011 (Act 832), which includes the promotion of the development and utilisation of renewable energy resources.
The Commission is also to recommend and advise relevant stakeholders on the educational curriculum on efficient use of renewable energy sources and evolve programmes for its mainstreaming in the educational curriculum in Ghana.
The Challenge seeks to promote creative thinking and provide mentorship to students in the second-cycle institutions, and also extend to them the platform to exhibit their innovative projects.
In an address on behalf of the Minister for Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Mr Seth Mahu, a Deputy Director for Power at the Ministry of Energy, noted that agriculture has been associated with large-scale farming practices that heavily rely on manual labour and conventional machinery.
He, however, said this approach presents limitations in terms of efficiency, productivity and sustainability.
“By shifting our attention towards small-scale agriculture, we can establish a decentralised system that empowers farmers with greater control over their production, promotes local food security and enhances rural development,” he explained.
The participating schools are expected to develop projects in the field of agriculture that incorporate renewable energy technologies.
“This provides an opportunity to explore innovative ways in which renewable energy can be harnessed to revolutionise farming practices and promote sustainability,” the Minister said.
According to him, students are required to devise a project that demonstrates the utilisation of renewable energy technologies to enhance any of these aspects within agriculture.
Moreover, students have the flexibility to integrate other scientific or technological aspects such as artificial intelligence, alongside their chosen renewable energy technology.
“I urge everyone to foster an environment of encouragement and support for schools, teachers and students, enabling them to unleash their full potential in conceptualising and developing innovative projects and products,” he said.
Dr Opoku Prempeh commended the Energy Commission for their efforts in securing the long-term sustainability of the Challenge, which involves the ongoing development and commercialisation of the students’ projects.
The Director-General of Ghana Education Service Dr. Eric Nkansah said with renewable energy technologies, “we can ensure a brighter future for small-scale farmers.”
She said small-scale agriculture plays a vital role in feeding communities and contributing to local economies.
She, however, said these farmers often face significant challenges such as limited access to electricity and reliance on fossil fuels for irrigating farms.
“This is where renewable energy technologies step in as a game-changer. Renewable energy technologies offer a clean and sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources.
“It is, therefore, very important for us, as a country, to look at ways of improving the agricultural sector to enable our farmers to use renewable energy technologies to efficiently harness the energy from renewable energy technologies to maximize the production and harvest for small-scale agriculture to produce enough feed for feeding the communities,” she concluded.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of Energy Commission, Ing Oscar Amonoo -Neizer said the Challenge has come a long way since its modest inception in 2019 when it was first introduced as a pilot programme involving 29 schools in the Greater Accra Region.
Since then, he said the Challenge has evolved into a national programme, capturing the attention and enthusiasm of both academic and non-academic institutions.
He said the prizes for this year would even be much better than the previous ones.
He expressed the Commission’s gratitude to the partners- German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Ashesi University, Bui Power Authority and Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited for their invaluable support.