SOLTRAIN - Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative is a regional initiative on capacity building and demonstration of solar thermal systems in the SADC region. It is funded by the Austrian Development Agency and co-funded by the Opec Fund for International Development.
SOLTRAIN started in 2009, and is now in its third phase of cooperation with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The aim of SOLTRAIN is to support the target countries in changing from a largely fossil energy supply system to a sustainable supply structure based on renewable energy in general, and on solar thermal in particular.
The implementing agency of SOLTRAIN is AEE INTEC, an Austrian institute active in solar thermal energy research, training and demonstration.
The local partners are the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa and the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the Namibian Energy Institute from Namibia, the Bethel Business and Community Development Centre from Lesotho, the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, Botswana University and the company Domestic Solar Heating in Zimbabwe.
SOLTRAIN focuses on the four crucial areas:
Raising awareness of the potentials in solar thermal technology: by using targeted campaigns, relevant stakeholders and the public are made aware of the wide range of application areas for solar thermal systems. Awareness raising also includes showing the benefits of solar thermal systems concerning energy supply, poverty alleviation, job creation and the protection of the natural environment.
Building of competence in solar thermal technology: currently there are no centres of competence for solar thermal in the partner countries. SOLTRAIN will help to establish institutional structures which can offer expert advice, training and technical support to the local industry and politicians. Research and development capacities is also part of these centres.
Creating solar thermal technology platforms: similar to the European technology platforms, these platforms include all key stakeholders and sectors that influence the general conditions of how to accelerate the dissemination and use of solar thermal systems.
Demonstrating that solar thermal technology works: SOLTRAIN sets up solar thermal demonstration plants in order to apply the knowledge taught in the training programs to installers, students and politicians. Both smaller and bigger plants were set up in social institutions and small and medium enterprises, where they contribute to water heating, cooling and the generation of process heat.