“I want to make young people passionate about modern technology”

SES expert and businessman Friedhelm Ochmann tells us about his assignments in Ghana and why he would like to give a young expert from an African country the opportunity to undertake a Team works! assignment in Germany.

Friedhelm Ochmann

Friedhelm Ochmann, *1951, Bottrop, Germany. Trained as a broadcasting engineer and works as a self-employed engineer and assessor for photovoltaic systems. He has completed five SES assignments in Ghana since 2016 and also joined the SES “VerA” apprentice support programme in 2020.

The interview

Friedhelm, could you tell us a little bit about your company?

My company is called Sunnycontrol. I offer web-based monitoring of photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of more than two megawatts. If there is any damage, I repair it or commission other specialist firms to do the work. I also work as an assessor for insurance companies and I sometimes install smaller-scale systems too.

How would a Team works! assignment in your firm benefit a young expert from Africa?

I’ve already been to Ghana with the SES so I’ve seen the electricity supply problems in Accra close up. The electrical engineering firms there have practically no knowledge of photovoltaic technology. In fact, I hardly saw any photovoltaic systems in Ghana even though they have an abundance of solar energy the whole year round. A placement in my firm, with visits to manufacturers and hands-on planning and work would give young experts some really practical experience. After the placement, the young African experts can plan systems on their own, bring them on stream and, if needed, even repair them. And that way they can help move their home countries’ electricity supply to renewables.

What would make having a young expert in your firm an enriching experience for you? What criteria would they have to meet?

Language skills would be important – English or German. Otherwise, we can’t communicate to the necessary level. The next thing would be for the young expert to be good with their hands and interested in electrics and mechanics. As well as lots of electrical aspects, our work involves lots of metal parts that need to be screwed together, cables that need to be laid and so on.

What’s your motivation for facilitating a young expert assignment with Team works!?

When I was in Ghana in the summer of 2016, I saw the problems caused by multiple power outages. Entire districts were brought to their knees. Refrigerators, street lighting, air-conditioning units, etc.- small and big fuel-operated emergency generators clatter all the time and everywhere because a reliable supply of energy is not possible. The water level in the Akosombo Dam, originally the world’s largest man-made reservoir, has dropped by more than twelve metres, making it no longer able to provide enough water to operate the electricity turbines. A good alternative could be created – wind or photovoltaic power, for instance. Training young people to work with these technologies and making them passionate about them is a huge source of motivation to me.