Power Outages: Makerere University Develops New Solar Grid System

A solar grid tie system has been developed to pilot a project at Makerere University to ease power outage problems. 

According to Dennis Rukundo, a solar PV Expert at the Makerere University Centre for Research and Energy Conservation (CREEC), the solar power grid tie system will solve the problem of darkness during outages.

The new 10 kilowatt solar project that cost CREEC close to 70 million shillings will be understudy for at least three years, meanwhile a bigger project to power the entire university.

  It works in a way that as the solar panels charge the solar batteries, one uses the on grid power, but when the on grid power goes off, immediately the solar power grid tie system powers on. 

Rukundo says the idea was developed in order for other institutions in Uganda to adopt it, ease power outages and also protect the environment. The power grid will power the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) and the project’s office. 

“When the grid goes off, the solar backup easily switches on. It mainly supplies power to the CEDAT old building which also houses the CREEC, to provide lighting to the key areas of the building. We want to demonstrate how viable solar energy is, we want institutions to pick up,” Rukundo said.

The grid tie uses sensitive solar panel and small but quality batteries that retain for a longer time and charge power faster.   

Dr. Robinah Kulabako, head of the university’s civil engineering department, due to power outages, she has on several occasions been left disappointed without accomplishing her research work, lectures and mentor ship of staff and students.  

Elizabeth Kamayangi, a fourth year Electrical Engineering student at says the new solar grid tie will solve the problems previously caused by power outages.

She says after on grid power shades off, the lectures stop and a lot of confusion is experienced at the CEDAT building especially at night. 

But Kamayangi is optimistic even the computers used for designing in laboratories will be powered when on grid power goes off.  

According to the Electricity Regulation Authority (ERA) at least 1.5 million Ugandans use solar energy as a power source for domestic and productive purposes.

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