In Timor-Leste, reliable access to renewable energy touches all parts of their daily life. Having solar energy means having better healthcare, better education, and it literally powers entrepreneurship and production activities in communities.
Until now, there were often positive and negative consequences to technological changes in Timor-Leste. According to Pedro Costa, the National Designated Authority for the GCF, the country can “gradually adopt the new renewable infrastructure and focus on renewable energy as a reliable and cost-effective source."
Specifically in rural areas of Timor-Leste, electricity used to mean black smoke belching from loud, diesel generators, clouding the blue sky but now it slowly becomes a gentle reflection of solar farms on village rooftops.
Having limited access to information on the latest developments in solar solutions also means having limited technical and management capacity to ensure sustainable use and transition to renewable energy technologies. With a vision to harness the boundless potential of solar energy, Timor-Leste's National Designated Entity (NDE) sought the expertise of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) to weave together a transformative tale.
Guided by Timor-Leste’s Strategic Development Plan (2011-2030) priorities, the CTCN and its consortium partner The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), with support from the Green Climate Fund, developed an educational programme that aims to boost local people’s capacity and knowledge in installing and maintaining solar PV systems, and ultimately, bring reliable and sustainable electricity, powered by renewable energy technologies, to “a hundred thousand people in remote villages and municipalities,” as Kapil Muddineni, TERI expert notes.
Reflecting on the programme, Muddineni says this training for trainers “empowers young people specifically from rural communities to participate in a modern economy, increasing economic opportunity for their country.”
The topics for the training programme were chosen based on requirements expressed by target stakeholders during the project, ranging from basics of solar radiation, solar radiation potential in Timor-Leste, design of the solar system using software, practical measurements, maintenance protocols, and others. The programme was followed by the distribution of certificates to participants, confirming the completion of the course.
As the training programme was paving the way for the low-carbon energy sector, it targeted mainly energy specialists from training centers, utility companies, and students to strengthen their capacity in solar PV's technical and management aspects.
A five-day training of trainers was organized by TERI to engage about 20 young people to build their knowledge and capacities in installing and maintaining solar PVs in the communities. These trainers shall impart the knowledge from the new training course to communities in villages in the future.
Aurora, Olandino and Abraão are among those who participated in the training. As for the majority of Timorese, being young and coming from a rural community always meant setting an example for others to impact development processes at municipal and national levels. That is why when they saw this training opportunity, they decided to enroll, learn and then pass the knowledge to others.
Originally from Bobonaro, a small municipality in Timor-Leste, Abraão understands the challenges and the value of having solar energy. “The lack of community skills and understanding of the system pose the only challenge,” he says.
A training programme like this touching on practical aspects of solar “not only builds the capacity of Timorese but also electrifies our villages with solar energy,” Abraão notes.
Aurora de Fatima Lelo shares a similar viewpoint stating that solar is the “best solution” for their communities not just due to its significant role in climate change mitigation but because fuel is costly and difficult to transport.
Aurora believes that this educational programme “empowers youth, and therefore, the future of the country.”
“By equipping us [the younger generation] with the knowledge and expertise in solar energy technology, we know we can actively participate in the country's energy transition and play a crucial role in shaping a more prosperous and environmentally friendly nation,” she reflects on her 5-day knowledge journey.
Through the training, the young specialists in Timor-Leste gain an understanding of harnessing and converting solar radiation into usable energy using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. They also learn about various solar panel types like monocrystalline and polycrystalline, each with unique efficiency levels and performance characteristics based on weather conditions.
“Solar energy provides good advantages for the community,” tells Olandino da Silva, technical assistant at EDTL, E.P, “solar energy is cheaper and clean.”
"My suggestion for the future is to provide us with similar training but with ample time and advanced subjects, such as relevant PV system software and other renewable energy resources software," Olandino reflects on his experience.
These solar energy projects are crucial for Timor-Leste's energy transition and its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while promoting economic growth and energy independence.
After completing the GCF Readiness proposal focusing on strengthening managerial and technical capacities around solar PV system installation and maintenance, the team focused on the development of a comprehensive strategy to design a program for enhancing the effective use of solar PV, along with the preparation of a GCF Concept Note to secure funding for its implementation.
This capacity building in Timor-Leste's renewable energy sector is implemented by the Climate Technology Centre and Network and its consortium partner, the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), with the support from the Green Climate Fund Readiness grant.