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The Must Renewable Energy 2017 team heading out for a site inspection with the representative of the customer, Arusha Technical College (who also acted as a guide).

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left to right: Johanna Trillkott, Andreas Nilssen Skorpen, Ragni Rønneberg Hernes and Jens Lillethun

Students investigate hydropower potential in Tanzania

Each summer since 2011, Multiconsult has organised the Must Renewable Energy Hydropower programme, which gives students the opportunity to test their skills on a real hydropower project for one of Multiconsult’s customers.

“For Multiconsult it is important for our summer programmes to reflect the day-to-day work of our employees, to show students what working for us involves and the opportunities we offer. We have therefore chosen to put together interdisciplinary student teams and give them specific tasks within ongoing projects for our customers, either in Norway or overseas,” says Christian Almestad, who was responsible for this year’s project.

Competition was very tough this year, with over 315 hopeful applicants for just four positions. The students selected were Andreas Nilssen Skorpen (studying Mechanical Engineering at KTH in Stockholm), Jens Lillethun (studying Industrial Economics and Technology Management at NTNU), Johanna Trillkott (studying Electric Power Engineering at Chalmers in Gothenburg) and Ragni Rønneberg Hernes (studying Water and Environmental Engineering at NTNU).

Two weeks in Tanzania

In this year’s project, students were asked to perform a pre-feasibility study on the potential of building new hydropower stations along the Kikuletwa River in the Kilimanjaro region of northeastern Tanzania.

The project started with a planning phase at Multiconsult’s offices in Oslo.

“During that phase we studied existing maps and data, focusing on background information like the topography, river flow and infrastructure. Based on that, we prepared a few preliminary designs for potential hydropower stations along the river. These were then taken forward for further study in the next phase of the project,” says Andreas Nilssen Skorpen.

After two weeks of preparations at Multiconsult’s offices in Oslo, the four students travelled to Tanzania at the start of July. For the first week of their two-week stay in Tanzania, they were based in Arusha, where they did several days of field work in the Kikuletwa river basin. This involved looking at all of the possible options for the location of dam and intake structures, waterways and the powerhouse, so that they could subsequently use these observations to assess which options were best from a technical and financial point of view.

“We spent three days in the field with a local guide who showed us around the Kikuletwa River. Using drone photos, GPS coordinates and distance measurements gave us a better understanding of the project area and possible locations for the dam, waterways and powerhouse. We also made various observations relating to the local geology, environmental issues, fauna and local people,” says Johanna Trillkott.

Educational experience

The students spent their second week in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, working at the offices of Multiconsult’s partner, Norplan Tanzania. As well as working at Norplan, the students visited the Norwegian embassy, where they presented the project and their provisional results. The embassy hosted a talk on Norway’s role in promoting renewable energy sources in developing countries, and the students learned about how Multiconsult collaborates with the Norwegian embassy.

The project ended on the 10th of August, when the students submitted their report and presented their findings to the whole of Multiconsult. Our student team has also been invited to present its work at one of the world’s biggest annual hydropower conferences, Hydro 2017, which this year will be held in Seville, Spain, over the period 9-11 October.

“Right from the start we were given a lot of trust and responsibility. It has been a reallymotivating summer job, and we have got a good sense of what it is like to work in Multiconsult as a consulting engineer. By working on complex tasks in an interdisciplinary group, we learnt a lot from each other and from our colleagues at Multiconsult,” says Jens Lillethun.

Ragni Rønneberg Hernes adds that they have all developed a strong interest in renewable energies, and this year’s summer project has really inspired them to continue striving for a more sustainable world. “This year’s summer project was incredibly exciting and challenging, and what we have learned and the experience we have gained will definitely benefit us in the future,” says Ragni Rønneberg Hernes.

About Must Renewable Energy International Hydropower

Since 2011, Multiconsult has organised the Must Renewable Energy International Hydropower summer programme. The programme was an immediate success, but the number of applicants has kept on rising, with new records being set each year.

“The number of applicants confirms that Multiconsult has succeeded in creating a summer programme that is both interesting and scientifically relevant to students within renewable energies. This means that we attract many applicants and can take our pick from some of the best students out there. We hope that taking part in the summer programme motivates the students to pursue a career within renewable energies,” says Christian Almestad.

Previous years’ projects include a pre-feasibility study for a hydropower and solar power plant in Kenya, the concept design for the rehabilitation of a hydropower station in Nepal and a pre-feasibility study for a small hydro facility in Zambia.