School of Engineering


PhD Focuses on Alleviating Energy Poverty and Environmental Pollution in South Africa

The knowledge that science and technology have provided for humankind has always fascinated Dr Peter Gbadega and was one of the main reasons he delved into the field of Engineering.

‘My desire to use science and technology to solve energy problems motivated me to enrol for a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering,’ he said. Gbadega completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He then decided to register at UKZN for postgraduate studies.

‘UKZN has always been among the top five universities in Africa with top-notch faculty members, research facilities and excellent laboratories. This motivated me to choose the University for my Master’s and PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering,’ said Gbadega. He was awarded his master’s degree cum laude.

Gbadega’s PhD thesis focused on alleviating energy poverty and environmental pollution in South Africa and Africa at large by deploying renewable distributed generation and microgrids.

In remote communities that lack electricity, stand-alone microgrids and microgrid clusters (using different forms of renewable energy) can deliver electricity without having to extend the utility grid. Indeed, grid-connected microgrids can augment grid generation at the distribution level and improve energy supply security during power cuts and load-shedding, providing utilities and communities with environmentally-friendly generation. Microgrids can also be used to ensure uninterrupted power supply to medical facilities/hospitals, the health and pharmaceutical sectors, and businesses that make important economic contributions to the country.

Gbadega is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Johannesburg. ‘I see myself joining the league of leading world-class researchers, contributing my best to the scientific and technological advancement of the world. I hope to broaden my knowledge of sustainable energy and acquire a holistic understanding of the electricity sector,’ he said.

‘What kept me going through my arduous and solitary journey was my own commitment as well as support, encouragement and gentle prodding from those around me,’ said Gbadega.

He thanked his supervisor, Professor Akshay Kumar Saha, for his contributions and support and his wife, Mrs Olufunke Abolaji Gbadega, for her encouragement, support and prayers. Gbadega expressed sincere appreciation to the National Research Foundation (NRF) for a block grant award.

Words: Swastika Maney

Photograph: Supplied