Ayana, an engineering student from a town in Africa, would like to be a power plant engineer, having been through the horrors of persistent blackouts and load shedding.
“I’d like to be an electrical engineer, because I would love to solve the power supply problems of my town, or maybe my country,” she said. She entered the technical university with high hopes: Months before classes started, her school had been outfitted with new computers, engineering laboratory equipment and electrical machines, and had been connected to the grid with the help of a rural electrification agency. “Our classes were productive, because we were working on our computers, spending fruitful hours in the lab and actually performing experiments,” she said, recounting her experiences prior to the prolonged rain-less season that has shrouded her country.
“Now,” she continued, “we are fast growing frustrated with what we are doing in school.” Owing to the lack of electricity due to shortage in hydropower, Ayana’s class regularly skips experiments, causing her and her classmates’ marks to flop. “We are like learning from our imagination. How could we master practical and technical subjects on paper? But, what can we do? Our machines and lab equipment just won’t work without power.”
Imamu has just earned his degree in Education from an African university. He wanted to teach young children, so he can take part in the formation of their values and learning. But, regularly disrupted classes and the lack of power and water in schools have gradually caused a change of heart.
“I would have loved to teach children here in my country, but I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place”, he said, adding that the pressing electricity problems were driving him away. “Because power only returns in the evening, I have to begin my classes at night. But, it’s not possible. It is not safe, and I have to be with my family.” He said that if the dire power situation continues, he might eventually be left with no choice but to move to neighboring countries where wages for teachers and working conditions in schools are better.
Electricity has gradually become a scarce commodity in many emerging countries, largely owing to shortage in hydropower and unstable power infrastructure. With the effects of blackouts and load shedding growing more pronounced in the education sector, industry experts and stakeholders fear for the next generation.
“Schools are hit hard by this ongoing energy supply situation,” said a member of an Educators Union. “Many developing countries are burdened with unemployment, and for some, the key to have better chances of finding a suitable job is obtain qualifications in science, engineering and business. But, while quality science, engineering and business education received a notable boost some few years ago, these days, it may have hit a formidable roadblock in blackouts.”
Solving the educational conundrum cannot wait for years nor decades. To keep up with the rapid evolution of knowledge and of the world itself, students and educators alike have to be abreast of the developments with the help of computers, mobile devices and other modern electronic equipment.
In times of persistent load shedding and regular blackouts, governments, utilities and stakeholders in the education sector will find an immediate power solution in hiring the services of temporary electricity providers. Reliable electricity is needed to power computers, run science and engineering laboratories and keep the school environment conducive to learning. Renting large-scale power plants can guarantee a constant supply of power to educational facilities without the need to spend scarce CAPEX in building permanent power stations. Governments, utilities and other stakeholders will appreciate the fact that they can pay for the electricity produced by hired power plants as the generators run, and that they can choose to add power modules to the rental power plants as their requirements increase.
Rental power plants are not only reliable, they also have less impact to the environment. Modern rental generators boast of cleaner operations, being able to run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas or a blend of gas and diesel. Studies conducted in different rental power plants sites around the world show that temporary power stations, like those running on natural gas, can surpass the worldwide NOx emission requirements, emitting only 250 mg/Nm3 even without after treatment.
“I feel sad even considering moving to another country to teach other children,” said Imamu. “I feel that as a citizen of my country, I have a role to play in its progress and in the development of its children and people. I still want to stay here. I hope the situation will be better in the coming weeks…”
“I am excited to actually use the computers and the lab equipment we have in school,” said Ayana. “I still believe that when I finish school, I will be a productive electrical engineer. I don’t only dream for my personal success; I envision my town emerging from poverty with reliable electricity.”
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