SOLtrain West Africa - ECOWAS Solar Thermal Capacity Building and Demonstration Program

One of the important measures for electricity demand mitigation in West Africa is the use of solar water heating for domestic, commercial and industrial requirement. However, the fact still remains that despite the high demand for heat and the presence of abundant solar resource, the use of solar thermal technologies to meet the demand for heat is still extremely low in ECOWAS countries (Economic Community of West African States).  The immense potential of solar thermal energy in the region could replace entirely the use of electricity, fossil resources or biomass energy to heat water. The ECOWAS solar thermal capacity building and demonstration program therefore aims to remove existing awareness, political, technological, and capacity related barriers which restrict solar thermal energy deployment in ECOWAS countries.

ECOWAS solar thermal capacity building and demonstration program aims to achieve the goals of the regional polices on Renewable energy and energy Efficiency adopted by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2013. The regional policies considered solar thermal as a least cost sustainable energy technology and set specific targets for its use to meet sanitary and industrial hot water needs in the region. 

ECREEE has been mandated to coordinate the implementation of these regional policies at National levels. The program offers the chance to use less fossil energy, use less electricity or biomass to meet hot water needs and allows more electricity to be available on the grid. The need for the Program is also based on the energy policies of the partner countries, and the economic and social framework conditions in each country.

Summary of Program:
The overall goal of the program SOLtrain West Africa is to contribute to the switch from a fossil fuel based energy supply to a sustainable energy supply system based on renewable energies in general but based on the advancement and use solar thermal technologies in the ECOWAS region. The program will also contribute to increase the grid stability and save national power reserves as solar thermal systems will significantly reduce the stress on electric grids due to the shift from electricity to solar energy.

In a consultation in June 2014 eight solar thermal institutions in West Africa were consulted by ECREEE. They showed the following priorities in the sector of solar thermal energy:

  1. Thermosyphon systems up to 10 m2 collector area

  2. Solar thermal drying of crops, fruits, herbs, meat, and also wood

  3. Pumped systems for 10-200m2 collector area

The program is designed to respond to these needs with theoretical and practical trainings and other activities.

The Activities of SOLtrain West Africa are:
  • Capacity Building by theoretical and practical Train-the-trainer courses to selected universities and polytechnic schools in the area of solar water heating and solar thermal drying 
  • Identify, monitor, analyse and improve existing solar thermal systems together with the partner institutions (practical training).
  • Technical support of local producers.
  • Design and Install solar thermal systems on the partner institutions for teaching and demonstration purposes. 
  • The partner institutions will offer trainings to national companies, installers, producers and further training institutions within their countries.
  • Installation of 25 Demonstration systems per participating country at social institutions as schools and hospitals engineered by the partner institutions and installed by national practitioners
  • Trainings to administrative, political and financial stakeholders in each country
  • Develop and install one Solar thermal testing facility in one selected country\

The program will run from 2015 until 2018 coordinated by ECREEE is technically supported by the experienced know-how provider AEE INTEC which offers more than 20 years of RTD, training, demonstration and engineering experiences of solar thermal systems  in many developing countries, including also Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Uganda. 

Contact Information: 

Mr Hannes Bauer

Program manager SOLtrain West Africa

Phone:  +238  2604 652

E-mail:   hbauer[at]

Ms Adeola Adebiyi

Junior Project Officer

Phone:  +238  2604 630

E-mail:   aadebiyi[at]

More actual information on Soltain West Africa: 

Trainning institutions of SOLtrain West Africa meet SOLtrain in Southern Africa