26 March 2012

Africa: New European-African Wind Engineering Initiative Launched

Marrakech, Morocco — Renewable energy scientists from Africa and Europe have agreed to set up an initiative to promote collaboration and joint research on wind energy.

Supported by the International Association for Wind Engineering (IAWE), the Euro-African Wind Energy Association was launched in principle at a conference in Marrakech, Morocco, earlier this month (9-11 March).

Claudio Borri, president of the Italy-based Alexander von Humboldt Alumni Association, and regional representative of the IAWE for Europe-Africa, said the IAWE was keen to foster wind engineering in the region by assisting national and regional organisations.

Once formally established, the new association will work towards closer ties between all relevant sectors on both continents, and will also explore the creation of new joint projects and initiatives, including conferences and capacity-building workshops.

"Renewable energy is one of the main issues for both [continents]," said conference chair Abdelhadi Soudi, Humboldt Ambassador Scientist at the National School of Mineral Industry, adding that "such an association should create bridges of communication to exchange ideas and experiences among researchers from neighboring continents".

Soudi told SciDev.Net that wind engineering researchers would benefit from participating in the association's activities, which are expected to include conferences, workshops, training courses and internships.

Mohamed Aabass, a researcher at the Faculty of Science and Technology Gueliz, at Caddi Ayyad University, Morocco, told SciDev.Net that the association could also help overcome negative impressions in the region "that Europe only needs African clean energy without transferring technologies or ways of developing it to African engineers and researchers".

He added that the association could also help provide new "training opportunities for young African researchers in Europe", noting that one of the association's aims is to aid in capacity building and training researchers and engineers.

Ismail Traboulsi, a researcher at the Water Research and Technology Center in Borj Cédria, Tunisia, told SciDev.Net that "after the Arab Spring new political support schemes are necessary to support the financing of wind energy engineering research and projects in the Middle East and North African region," adding that a lack of financial resources was "a major barrier for wind energy investment".

He said "special consideration" should also be given to joint research projects on "small-scale and hybrid systems for rural electrification - so that hundreds of millions of Africans in un-served areas can benefit from modern electricity services".

He urged the new association to work towards securing funds for such projects.

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