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Sustainability of Solar PV Institutions in Malawi

Dauenhauer, Peter and Frame, Damien Fleming (2015) Sustainability of Solar PV Institutions in Malawi. [Report]

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Abstract

The sustainability challenges of off-grid community energy projects using solar photovoltaics in Malawi have been widely acknowledged. However, little formal evidence has been produced regarding the factors that affect the sustainability of these projects. Under the MREAP, a study was commissioned to generate more conclusive evidence around the sustainability challenges of the current stock of schools, health centres, and other rural public institutions. An original data set consisting of performance data from 5 sustainability ‘pillars’, consisting of economic, technical, social, organizational, and environmental has been captured for 43 systems in rural Malawi. The results confirm existing anecdotal evidence and suggest that the majority of installed projects can be considered ‘unsustainable’ and at risk of failure in the near future. Many projects are now unsupported, are partially or completely non-functional, and are without reliable and effective means to resuscitate performance. Projects are ranked (relatively) in terms of overall sustainability and factors for improved sustainability are discussed. Our analysis demonstrates the complicated interactions between sustainability pillars and highlights the need for a holistic approach to project design and implementation.