UNDP Launches First ‘Solar Lab’ in Khartoum

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organization (SSMO)/UNDP on Monday launched a ‘Solar Lab’ to provide testing and certification services for solar energy technology.

The UNDP said in a statement that the lab’s core function is to ensure the quality and longevity of imported solar systems, and support Sudan’s solar revolution. The statement points out that in a large and high sunshine hours country like Sudan, solar energy offers significant opportunities and a way to rebuild better post-Covid-19.

“The opening of this facility constitutes a great leap forward in the renewable energy sector in Sudan,” said Dr Omar Abdullah Ibrahim, Director of Planning and Studies at SSMO.
“The establishment of the laboratory and the setting of standards for solar energy systems enables SSMO to ensure that imported solar systems conform to the approved technical and environmental standards,” Ibrahim stated further.

With many of Sudan’s imported solar systems being refurbished, testing guarantees the quality, authenticity, and reliability of these products, which will provide up to 20 years of renewable energy for Sudanese users.

The Solar Lab, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP, SSMO and Ministry of Energy and Mining, will test and certify 20-30 imported solar panels, systems, and solar-powered water pumps per day – with thousands already destined for Sudan’s agricultural sector.

The lab’s establishment follows the creation of national, globally-aligned solar technical standards by the SSMO, and will also support solar technology research and technical improvements.

“Sudan has an opportunity for a solar revolution, transforming agriculture, transport and many other sectors. Solar energy can unlock economic potential, break reliance on petroleum products with their fuel and subsidy costs, create jobs, boost productivity and protect the environment.

“In Northern State, an agricultural solar power trial increased productivity and land use by almost 50 per cent, while eliminating fuel costs, and crop loss due to limited fuel supply,” said Selva Ramachandran, UNDP Sudan’s Resident Representative.

Ramachandran continues: “Facing the socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19, we must build forward. Solar energy is one way to make that happen, and the Solar Lab is a crucial step.”

In addition to funding, SSMO and the Ministry have contributed a team of technical experts and engineers for the lab’s operation – supported with UNDP training – as well as land and equipment. Additional engineers from the University of Khartoum have been trained and will be involved in the lab’s operations.

SSMO is a Government of Sudan entity established to coordinate Sudan’s engagement with regional and international organisations, including the International Standards Organization (ISO). SSMO operates 15 testing and certification laboratories across Sudan. Adding solar technology expands SSMO’s mandate and expertise, ahead of the UNDP / Global Environmental Facility roll-out of 1,469 solar-powered water irrigation pumps to farms in Northern State by 2021.

The Solar Lab and “Solar for Agriculture” initiatives are part of UNDP Sudan’s broad efforts to drive solar and wind energy in agriculture, transport, housing, and infrastructure. Combined, UNDP Sudan aims to reduce climate impact and reliance on imported fossil fuels, generate livelihoods and increase Sudan’s economic potential.

Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja


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