Russom Semere

Russom Semere

Current and Former PPRE/EUREC Students Meet at an Off-Grid Workshop in Memmingen/Germany

by Russom Semere, Eritrea (PPRE 2008/10)


"The world speaks Off-Grid" was the motto of this year’s "Off-Grid Experts Workshop", which is organized every two years by a system integrator company Phaesun GmbH in the southern part of Germany, Memmingen. This year was very special, as record Nr. of PPRE/EUREC students and Alumni (nine) participated in the 2 day event.

  • 4 from PPRE 2014/16: Salim Barkeel (Syria), Secilia Ileka (Namibia), Miriam Sedlak (Austria) and Nermeen Abdelnour (Egypt)
  • 1 from EUREC 2013/15: Mariela Tapia, Ecuador
  • 2 from 2011/2013: Nicola Staffolani, Italy (EUREC) & Ricardo Faerron, Costa Rica (PPRE)
  • 2 from 2008/2010: Russom Semere, Eritrea (PPRE) and Roy Emmerich, South Africa (EUREC)

The workshop was held in a festival hall of the city of Memmingen between 25 and 26 September 2015, together with co-organizer Steca Elektronik GmbH, event partners SolarWorld and Morningstar, as well as 35 additional exhibitors from the renewable energy industry.
Roughly 450 guests participated at the interactive workshop, mostly from Africa, Latin America, Middle East, as well as Europe. The Off-Grid power supply with renewable energy was the focus of the Off-Grid Experts Workshop.
Topics such as rural electrification, solar powered water supply, as well as applications in the industrial and leisure time sector were highlighted with 35 expert lectures. Apart from the rich lecture programmes, the visitors had a chance to learn more and interact directly at the booths of roughly 40 exhibitors about their companies, their product innovations and services. During additional interactive sessions such as the Energy Experts Café and the Running Discussion, the guests discussed the various application possibilities of independent solar, wind, and hydropower systems.
The workshop programme was even more enriched by providing a “hands on studio” platform where visitors can pull their sleeves and do some practical work interconnecting cables, components and building their own Off-Grid system. Moreover, the Speaker´s corner provided the opportunity for the guests to present some short and specific subjects and created a lively discussion among the Off-Grid guests and experts. An entertaining supporting programme provided time and space for networking.
Tobias Zwirner, Managing Director of Phaesun GmbH reports: "The enhanced visitor interest since the first Off-Grid Experts Workshop in 2011 proves us right. The Off-Grid niche market is often given too little attention at major trade events, like intersolar. With the Off-Grid Experts Workshop, we have established a platform for manufacturers, users and further experts who discuss the complex and variegated sector of independent energy supply on a high level."

Hydropower and wind power as additional energy sources

After the event had emphasised photovoltaics during the past years, this time also the potential of wind and hydropower was increasingly in the focus. Marius Weckel aroused great visitor interest for the hydropower turbines of his company Smart Hydro Power which are successfully used in South America and Africa. “If there is an appropriate water source available, the hydropower provides reliable energy for 24 hours a day”, he reports.
Even the Start-Up enterprise LuvSide from Bavaria met with many active discussion partners who were surveying the vertical wind power systems with great interest. Tobias Zwirner comments on this development as follows: „Off-Grid solar technology has more in common with Off-Grid water or wind power than with grid-connected solar technology.”

Complete solutions on the rise

The developments of complete kits for independent power supply attracted much attention. Due to the developments of LED-technology and the price cuts with solar panels, complete kits with a low output range, so called Pico PV kits became popular. They are now used in large quantities for the illumination of individual households in regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia with a poor infrastructure, as well as in the camping sector in Europe. This was reported on the one hand by manufacturers such as Sundaya and Enerplex, and on the other hand also by non-profit organisations and local traders who offer Pico PV kits successfully as a source of illumination and electricity.
Moreover, it was shown that complete kits are increasingly required also with a higher output range. Martin Hauck of Smart Energysystems increasingly offers complete systems. „We have started to install the electronics directly in the junction boxes adjusted to the required systems and sell them as complete solutions, so problems related to the selection of the appropriate electronics for the installation on site can be avoided“ he reports.

System monitoring becomes more important also with Off-Grid systems

Smart Energy systems, uses (among others) the electronics of the event partner Studer Innotec from Switzerland in their junction boxes for system monitoring. Eric Werfeli, head of sales with Studer remarks that the monitoring of Off-Grid solar systems has become more and more important. „Hybrid systems are more frequently installed with more than one energy source that supply important electrical consumers such as telecommunication stations. It is essential here to ensure that the system works smoothly while the operator often is many kilometres away from the site: Monitoring technologies become increasingly important“
In the same subject, former EUREC 2008/10 graduate Roy Emmerich, who recently established his own company (Infinite Fingers) on system monitoring and data logging, which assists small to medium businesses to keep track of their renewable energy powered off-grid systems, presented his solution at the speaker corner. Roy has excellently demonstrated the importance of keeping track of your system for an optimal performance and long term reliability.

Off-Grid Experts Awards: Electrification in Africa in the focus of the winners

The Off-Grid Experts Awards celebration 2015 took place as a highlight at the end of the Off-Grid Experts Workshop on Saturday evening in the historical ice cellar building in Memmingen this year. This competition that had been announced for the second time awarded extraordinary performances as well as particular impressions related to “energy independence” in the four categories product, project, photo and filmlet. The Dutch organisation „Foundation for Rural Energy Services“ (FRES) proudly accepted the award for their extraordinary and extensive electrification project based on solar-hybrid grids in two of the poorest regions of Mali.
Please find more information on the Off-Grid Experts Workshop and the Off-Grid Experts
Awards on the official website:

About Phaesun GmbH

Phaesun has been specialising in the sale, service and installation of Off-Grid photovoltaic and wind power systems since the foundation in 2001. As one of the world’s leading system integrators of Off-Grid energy systems, Phaesun offers products of all reputable manufacturers of this trade. International project management, purposeful training courses for customers and technical support complete the range of services offered.
The headquarters of Phaesun GmbH are based in Memmingen/Germany. The Phaesun Group now has daughter companies in France and Dubai and holds subsidiaries in Eritrea, Panama and Ivory Coast. Phaesun can fall back on a worldwide partner and distribution network. Therefore Phaesun contributes to the sustainable electricity supply in the target regions of Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

(Changed: 2020-01-23)