Dream Renewables

Location: Ghana

Dream Renewables is a non-profit organisation which is part of the Dream Big Ghana NGO. Dream Renewables’ mission is to educate and inspire young Ghanaians about renewable energy through practical hands-on learning. This is done by encouraging and facilitating locally-led renewable energy projects; equipping young adults with practical skills to enhance their employability in the renewable energy sector; and, increasing awareness of renewable energy amongst the wider community.

Dream Renewables provides education and training programmes across the three subject areas of solar power, biomass briquettes and energy efficiency to students in Dzita, a rural fishing community in the south of the Volta Region, and Kumasi, Ghana’s second biggest city. NextEnergy Foundation supported the solar power programme, a three-week course which provided a comprehensive introduction to solar power design and installation. Students ultimately designed and developed a business case for a solar energy system in their community, learning to connect up a DC system and a small off-grid AC system. There was an element of circularity to the programmes because after completing them, students formed small groups and ran at least one workshop at a local school or community centre related to the programme subject areas. These workshops were designed to educate the wider community about renewable energy and sustainability, increasing acceptance and uptake of such technologies in communities.

Overall, 120 students partook in the three programmes provided by Dream Renewables between July and September 2021. From the workshops which the students then designed and held for the wider communities, 500 additional individuals learnt about renewable energy, thus increasing awareness about the technologies.

September 2021 Update: Dream Renewables provided the following update on the programme in Dzita:

  • 24 students in total (16 attending daytime training and 8 attending virtual evening classes)
  • Learning outcomes included, amongst others, the installation of a 200w 1kWh solar power system for a small government clinic and conducting renewable energy advocacy at 3 local schools and in two community areas

October 2021 Final Project Update: Following the completion of the project and having now received feedback from the programme’s trainees, Dream Renewables provided the following information:

During the solar programmes, trainees learnt about the theoretical and practical elements of solar power from experts in the industry. They also worked alongside a professional installation team for the design and installation of an 8kW solar hybrid system; installed two DC solar hybrid systems to provide power for local community spaces; and, worked in groups to design and pitch a solar power system for a local business. Towards the end of the training, groups of trainees visited churches, schools and community centres to spread the word about climate change and the various benefits of solar energy and clean cooking technologies. In total, over 500 people were reached through these sessions.

A 24-year-old female trainee said, “Before attending this course I thought it would just teach me how to install solar systems. However, when I arrived, I realised it was really nice. They taught us how to manage our energy and perform energy audits. Afterwards, we did practicals, and trust me, now I can install a solar system! Also, I urge my lady colleagues out there to engage with courses like this – this is not only for men.

An impact summary of the Foundation’s support is below:

  • 40 students trained in solar power and energy efficiency
  • Two solar systems installed in rural communities
  • Over 500 people impacted through the ‘students become the teachers’ model
  • Eight solar home systems sold to Trainees at reduced rates
  • 16 alumni applied for internships with Dream Renewables’ industrial partners
  • Two groups of alumni are now working on renewable energy projects in their communities
  • Formation of a solar power and clean cooking advocacy group
  • Ongoing maintenance and repair of three solar power systems in rural communities
  • Distribution of 20 fuel-efficient stoves for community members to trial

Location: Ghana

In 2021, NEF supported Dream Renewables’ solar power programme – a three-week course which provided a comprehensive introduction to solar power design and installation – in Ditza, a rural fishing community, and Kumasi, Ghana’s second biggest city. More details about the project and its impacts can be found here.

This year, we are rolling-out a solar-powered irrigation pilot for 10 small-holding farmers in the Ditza community.

These systems will eliminate the use of diesel generators and high-carbon grid electricity, while also increasing farmers’ yields and reducing farming time. After conducting an assessment with local renewable energy companies in Ghana, Dream Renewables concluded that drip irrigation systems are best placed to meet the need of farmers in Dzita. Dream Renewables has partnered with SunCulture, which has 20 years of experience delivering solar irrigation projects across East Africa, to run the pilot.

The irrigation systems will be installed over the next 6 months and monitored for one year thereafter. Learning from the monitoring phase will inform the larger-scale adoption of solar irrigation in rural Ghana.

The photograph above is of solar panels being installed on a demonstrator site for interested farmers to visit. The tank and pump will be installed in April. An update on the project progress will be provided in due course.