FPU professor to study solar energy in Africa on Fulbright ScholarshipBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
March 01. 2015 10:06PM
A Franklin Pierce University professor will be spending the next academic year studying the potential of solar power in rural Africa thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.
Dr. Michael Mooiman, associate professor in Franklin Pierce’s MBA program, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year.
In an interview Sunday, Mooiman said he will travel to Africa in August to start his 10-month trip, during which he plans to focus on Africa’s tremendous potential to harness solar power. He will also teach energy studies at the University of Botswana.
As an engineer, Mooiman has long been interested in the energy industry, he said.
“As I tell my students, energy stands at the intersection of technology, finance and policy,” he said.
So he jumped at the opportunity Franklin Pierce University gave him to create its MBA program in energy and sustainability, he said.There are three aspects of his trip, Mooiman said. First, he will research how solar technology can be used in rural villages to provide electricity in remote areas where there is no electrical grid to plug into, and what are the technical and storage issues a rural village would face.“It will be very interesting to see the current state of solar electricity in Africa,” he said.
Second, Mooiman plans to research what obstacles stand in the way of wide-spread solar technology in Africa.“Botswana is a desert country, it has enormous potential to use solar technology, but they don’t use a lot of solar technology,” Mooiman said. “What is holding them back? It seems an obvious thing. Why is it not happening? It might be simple economics.”Last, Mooiman will teach energy studies at the University of Botswana.
Mooiman was born and raised in South Africa, but has been living in the U.S. since 1987.
“This is an opportunity for me to go back to Southern Africa, and in a way make a small contribution to the continent I grew up on, but also there is a lot for me to learn,” Mooiman said.To prepare, Mooiman is taking a community college course on solar panel installation and working on his Botswana language skills.
Mooiman, 58, lives in North Attleborough, Mass.
Franklin Pierce’s MBA program office is located in Manchester.