Students Present at IEEE Conference in Tunisia-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University

Students Present at IEEE Conference in Tunisia

Students Present at IEEE Conference in Tunisia 

students in tunisiaWhile only in their first semester of studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda (CMU-R), Jean Pierre Murenzi and Paul Buchana each had a paper accepted at this year’s IEEE International Renewable Energy Congress (IREC 2015) held in March in Sousse, Tunisia. With many assignments to complete and semester exams just around the corner, attending the four-day congress was a serious commitment for these students.

Having completed his studies in Computer Engineering in Uganda in 2013, Paul Buchana is no stranger to a busy schedule as he initiated two startup companies upon graduation, one in the area of renewable energy research. In his paper he researched hydro, wind and solar energy systems in the hinterland of Nyakabanda town in Ngororero district, around 90km Northwest of the capital Kigali.  The district under examination is coffee growing and he looked at the coffee milling stations as the “anchor loads” or primary source of stable demand for electricity for planning purposes.

Both papers were on the subject of microgrids, small-scale electrical generation and distribution systems that deliver power in a small region near the power sources. Typical macrogrid infrastructures transmit high-voltage electricity and connect very large power plants to load centers that can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers from the generators.  While macrogrids are common in the developed world because they offer excellent economies of scale, microgrids may hold the key to electrifying Africa.

Paul saw that many of the presenters and their research were coming from Africa but there were notable contributions from researchers in India, UK and Germany amongst others.

“There is a lot of potential in renewable energies. We are hopeful that one day we will have a green future.”

sousse tunisia

He believes that hydropower has a great future in Rwanda and hopes the country can further exploit its resources in this area. He will surely be able tocontribute to this effort given that he describes his studies in CMU-R as “very practical and hands-on”. Meanwhile the conference trip allowed his time to soak up the beautiful sights in Sousse and sample the abundant local olive oil.

Buchana’s paper is entitled “The Role of Microgrids & Renewable Energy in Addressing Sub-Saharan Africa’s Current and Future Energy Needs” and Murenzi’s is entitled” The Case for Microgrids in Electrifying Sub-Saharan Africa”. Both of the papers presented will be published in IEEE’s Xplore database.

They were accompanied by CMU-R faculty member Dr. Taha Selim Ustun, who supervised their research and also chaired the session on “Modern Non-linear Dynamics of Renewable Energy Systems.” Both Paul and Jean Pierre were delighted to have achieved this success and grateful to CMU-R for supporting their attendance.

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