Sustainability analysis off-grid community solar PV projects in Malawi

Dauenhauer, P. M. and Frame, D. F. (2017) Sustainability analysis off-grid community solar PV projects in Malawi. In: 2016 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., Piscataway, N.J., pp. 113-120. ISBN 9781509024339

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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 evidence has been produced regarding the factors that affect the sustainability of these projects. This paper presents the results of a nationwide study of community solar PV project sustainability in Malawi. The concept of sustainability as a holistic measure is defined and captured through field survey at 43 projects. A multi-factor scoring technique provides a relative ranking of the surveyed projects. The majority of projects have serious shortcomings undermining their ability to produce a positive impact as intended. The results provide useful insights to the design of solar PV projects for community energy practitioners and indicate that the underlying challenges are both internal and systematic, from a poor technical design approach to limitations in the skills required to effectively manage such projects.