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Project Purpose:
  1. The main purpose of this project is to provide electric lights to Peace School - its 10 classrooms, office, and dormitories.  Because Uganda’s feeble electric grid does not reach the school, this project is part of a larger commitment to generate onsite electricity and biogas from sun, wind, and waste materials.
  2. A hybrid renewable energy system will be installed with enough capacity to meet both the needs of the school and nearby neighbors, thus creating a potential revenue stream for this private school.
  3. An applied curriculum will be developed to introduce children to the fundamentals of power generation and maintenance of renewable energy systems.  The students will share responsibilities for servicing and maintaining the energy systems.  In turn, they can help their families and community members develop the capacity to operate onsite renewable energy systems as they become available.
  4. Providing modern energy generated via renewable resources will avoid releasing harmful greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.  Additionally, indoor air pollution from kerosene lamps and cooking over open fires will be curtailed.

Peace Nursery and Primary School in Uganda is partnering with AHEAD Energy to generate onsite energy.  Three renewable sources of energy will be installed: wind power, solar power, and biogas.  Electricity will be used to power lights, kitchen appliances, and classroom electronics.  Biogas will be used for cooking and water heating.  Currently, the electric grid does not reach the school.  Daylight alone illumines the classrooms and kerosene lamps are used by students to study at night. With rising petroleum prices, the cost of paraffin is so high that only the older students are provided with lamps.
The school prepares 90 meals a day for its boarding students and teachers.  Cooking is done over highly polluting wood fires.  Refrigeration is nonexistent – a major problem.  The school lacks hot water for bathing, laundry and cleaning.  There are no electronics or access to the Internet in classrooms to enhance learning.
Electricity will be generated from both solar and wind power. A hybrid system provides greater reliability, since sunshine cannot be captured at night and wind patterns are irregular. With the equator running directly through Uganda, there is plenty of sunshine.  Even in the rainy season (April – June) the sun shines several hours per day. In addition, solar thermal heating will provide hot water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking.

A biodigester will supply gas to the school kitchen. Since the school earns operating funds by raising poultry, chicken manure will provide the basic feedstock for the biodigester along with food scraps, “humanure” from the latrines, and agricultural waste from nearby farms. A biodigester will enhance sanitation and produce clean fertilizer for gardening.
Currently, over 90% of Ugandans depend on wood and charcoal for the energy to meet daily tasks.  Without domestic petroleum resources, the country’s modern energy system is limited to locally produced hydropower or imported petroleum products.  Escalating oil prices and rainfall variations make Uganda’s power supply highly volatile. Thus, the Government of Uganda has recently adopted a Renewable Energy Plan to encourage development of alternative power generating systems.
Schools are an excellent location to introduce renewable energy technologies. The school community can assume responsibility for maintaining the system.  The scale of projects (larger than household scale but smaller than commercial scale) is well suited to renewable technologies.
  1. Currently, undergraduates at the University of Rochester are working with AHEAD Energy to identify the most appropriate energy generating technologies, light fixtures, kitchen appliances and classroom electronics for Peace School.
  2. In February 2009, a site visit will be made to the school by AHEAD Energy staff and a University of Rochester undergraduate.  Guided by staff from the Ugandan Ministry of Energy, they will visit sites where renewable energy technologies are operating and explore local channels for obtaining needed equipment and supplies.
  3. When adequate funding has been secured, AHEAD staff will head up a team of university students to install the hybrid energy system at the school.
  4. AHEAD staff and university students will work with the teachers at Peace School to develop a science curriculum that embraces the fundamentals of energy production while servicing and maintaining the energy system at Peace School.
  5. Students will graduate from the school with an understanding of how an energy system works and have the capacity to maintain similar systems in their homes, places of business, and community centers.

Uses of Funds:
  • Purchase of LED lights $300
  • Wiring of buildings    $150
  • Installation of LED lights $50


As a teacher at Buganda Primary School, Uganda native, Joanita Senoga, had seen children denied an education due to their family’s inability to pay school fees. In 1994, Joanita began providing lessons to these children every evening on her parent’s porch. Convinced of the value of nursery schools, Joanita set out to found a nursery school.  Soon there were 24 nursery aged children being schooled in the home of Ms. Senoga’s grandparents.
The prospect of the school continuing as a nursery school was cut short when parents began clamoring for Ms. Senoga to continue to teach their children.  “You know we cannot take our children elsewhere,” they told her.  So in 1996 a Primary 1 class was added.  Each year another class was added such that the school now provides instruction for all seven years of primary education, in addition to kindergarten and nursery school.
A family member offered to rent a plot of land for a school at a relatively low cost in Makindye, a suburb of Kampala.  There was a small permanent house to which temporary structures were annexed.  Today there are 10 classrooms and 12 teachers. There is a boys dormitory and a girls dormitory at the school where 30 students reside. Despite meager conditions, the school has produced the highest-testing and most well- behaved students in the area.
The school earns operating funds by raising poultry.  Children assist in gathering and selling eggs.  At certain times of the year, chickens are also butchered and sold.  Families contribute what little they can to their children’s education; no student is turned away for lack of funds.
In 2008, Joanita Senoga, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia (USA), met a founding member of AHEAD Energy.  A proposal was submitted to AHEAD Energy’s Board of Directors to undertake the current energy project at the school.  Since AHEAD’s offices are located on the University of Rochester campus, AHEAD has invited a number of undergraduates to assist with the project, thus involving them in applied service learning.


Type of Students Helped:
Peace School educates children who are not able to attend public schools due to school costs and other requirements. Many of its students are orphans whose parents have died of AIDS. Currently there are 105 students in the lower grades. This includes two nursery classes, kindergarten, and grades 1 and 2. There are 92 students in the upper primary grades.  This includes grades 3 to 7.
This project will turn wind and solar energy into lighting, refrigeration, hot water, and power to run electronics at Peace School. Biogas will provide a clean cooking fuel.  The impacts include:
  • The ability of students to study after dark using electric lights.
  • Increased security of the school premises due to yard lights and latrine lights.
  • Elimination of health hazards from kerosene lamps and cooking over open fires. *
  • Increased variety and safety of food produced in the school kitchen due to the availability of refrigeration.
  • Enhancement of learning by introducing computers, overhead projectors, radios and TVs into the classroom.
  • Improved comfort and health of students and staff who are able to bathe in hot water.
  • Ability of the School to control operational costs by generating its own power.
  • Ability of the School to generate operating funds by selling excess power.
  • Elimination of harmful greenhouse gas emissions from kerosene and wood fires. 
  • Increased understanding among University of Rochester students of the challenges and options for developing modern energy services in developing nations.

*Electric lighting is far superior to kerosene lamps which are dangerous, odorous, and produce noxious fumes.  The price of kerosene is volatile since it is imported and thus subject to the fluctuations of global petroleum markets.

Team Credentials

Twenty years ago an effort was mounted at the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and Africa-American Studies at the University of Rochester based on the idea that energy had a critical role to play in assisting developing nations to overcome the scourge of poverty.  A separate nonprofit, AHEAD Energy, was created to pursue this goal.  The organization maintains close ties to the University where its offices are located.
AHEAD Energy’s founder and Board Chairman, Ben Ebenhack is a member of the University of Rochester’s Chemical Engineering faculty.  Over the years he has involved dozens of undergraduates in research on energy for the developing world.  Currently, students in UR’s Alternative Energy Lab are optimizing designs for a biodigestor at Peace School.  Next semester, a student majoring in Sustainable Development and Energy will travel to the School with AHEAD staff for a site visit and create the engineering plan to install the hybrid energy system.  The system will be installed by members of the University of Rochester Engineers for a Sustainable World chapter under the direction of AHEAD Energy.  Additionally, UR students and professors will work with Peace School teachers in developing the energy curriculum the School.
Joanita Senoga, the founder of Peace School, currently resides in Richmond, VA, where she serves as a librarian at the University of Virginia.  Mukasa Charles is the Director of the Peace Nursery and Primary School.  He is assisted by an Administrative Board and a group of guardians. Mr. Muyinza Morris Bbaale is Headmaster of the Upper School.


  • Photos from the Peace School

    Below are some photos of the installation of solar panels at the Peace School. Charge controllers: Batteries: Seven installed panels:
  • Photos from the Peace Primary School

    In many ways, a picture is worth a thousand words. Below are some of the most recent pictures from the Peace Primary School. Thank you all for your support! Getting ready for lunch: Lower School Classroom: MJ Reading a Story to the Class: P3 Class: P4 Class: P7 Class: School Yard: Students Give the Thumbs Up: Waiting in the Lunch Line:
  • Photos from the Peace Nursery and Primary School

    This is a picture of the facade of Peace Nursery and Primarcy School - more than 200 children attend this school! The picture below is of a typical classroom at Peace Nursery and Primary School. The students are hard at work! The picture below is of the Girl's Dormitory. The picture below is of the latrines. The picture below is of the school kitchen. As you can see, the kitchen would benefit substantially from the installation of a renewable energy source, especially since so many meals are served daily. The children are all lined up, ready for the start of the schoolday!