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Greenhouses with “Sunroofs” and Solar Dryers for the 21st Century

Jülich, 13 August 2019 – Using renewable energy to secure the food supply and utilize land intelligently in West Africa’s tropical climate is the aim of a German–African research project in which Forschungszentrum Jülich is involved. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing funding of approximately € 2 million to the project. Parliamentary State Secretary and member of the German Bundestag Thomas Rachel today presented the official notification of the funding at Forschungszentrum Jülich to Prof. Harald Bolt from Jülich’s Board of Directors, project coordinator Dr. Solomon Agbo, and further project partners.

A fifth of Africa’s population suffers from hunger. Climate change is likely to further aggravate this situation as extreme weather events threaten the food supply of a growing population. In all of this, insufficient food supplies are usually down to a distribution problem: in Nigeria and Benin, although farmers are able to produce sufficient food, production is not evenly distributed throughout the year. Thus, during harvest season, several hundred thousand tonnes of field crops rot away unused.

Researchers from Nigeria, Benin, and Germany are working to solve this problem within the scope of the three-year YESPV-NIGBEN project, which focuses on yield analyses and socio-economic impact assessments of photovoltaic and photovoltaic-supported food and energy hybrid systems in the tropical Nigerian–Beninese climate. In order to reduce land use conflicts between agricultural and energy production, combined photovoltaic greenhouses will be developed for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. The photovoltaic system, which will be adapted to local conditions, will permit electricity to be produced for the greenhouse itself as well as for the local grid. Greenhouses are the basis for the predictable and continuous production of food. In parallel, drying facilities using solar concentrators, ventilation, and management systems will be developed with the aim of preserving local produce more effectively. This would enable large quantities of surplus produce to be processed.

YESPV-NIGBEN BescheidübergabeAt the handover of the grant certificates: (from left) Prof. Uwe Rau, Director of the Institute for Photovoltaics, Dr. Solomon Agbo, Corporate Development, Board Member Prof. Harald Bolt, Mobolaji Sakirat Ogundero, Deputy Nigerian Ambassador in Berlin, State Secretary for Research Thomas Rachel MdB, Peter Schrum, Sunfarming, and Prof. Ulrich Schurr, Director of the Institute for Plant Sciences
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / Ralf-Uwe Limbach

“Africa is a key partner in the fight against climate change. Our aim is to give Africa the tools to handle the consequences of a changing climate, but also to establish a new partnership for a sustainable energy supply. The German expertise contributed within the YESPV-NIGBEN project will help improve West Africa’s food supply system.Through research and innovation, we will thus support sustainable business models and perspectives for people in their home countries of Nigeria and Benin,” says BMBF Parliamentary State Secretary, Thomas Rachel.

Scientists from Jülich’s photovoltaics and plant sciences institutes are also involved in the project. “Ghana, Nigeria, and Benin are important strategic project partners for us in Africa. We have already worked with these countries on several projects concerning climate, soil, and food supply security,” explains Prof. Harald Bolt, member of the Board of Directors at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The project plans include both theoretical analyses and practical field tests in the partner countries to develop socioeconomic impact assessments.

The project also has an industry partner: photovoltaic company Sunfarming from Erkner in the German federal state of Brandenburg. On the African side, the project is organized through the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) in Accra, Ghana, which is also sponsored by BMBF. Further partners include Nigeria’s National Centre for Energy Research and Development (NCERD) at the University of Nigeria, Centre for Atmospheric Research of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), and Eauxwell Nigeria Limited as well as Benin’s Université d’Abomey-Calavi.

Institute for Energy and Climate Research - Photovoltaics (IEK-5)
Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Plant Sciences (IBG-2)

Contact:
Dr. Solomon Nwabueze Agbo
Corporate Development
Tel.: +49 2461 61-1666
E-Mail: s.agbo@fz-juelich.de

Press contact:
Erhard Zeiss, Press officer
Tel.: + 49 2461 61-1841
E-Mail: e.zeiss@fz-juelich.de