Experiences from deploying solar PV energy businesses in rural Malawi

Frame, Damien and Dauenhauer, Peter and Eales, Aran and Galloway, Stuart (2019) Experiences from deploying solar PV energy businesses in rural Malawi. In: Energising the Sustainable Development Goals Through Appropriate Technology and Governance, 2019-07-04 - 2019-07-05, de Montford University.

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    Abstract

    This paper draws out translational learning for off-grid energy access initiatives from a case study in Malawi. Deploying solar PV 'Charging Stations' in four rural communities, the Sustainable Off-Grid Electrification of Rural Villages (SOGERV) project set out to establish sustainable, community focussed, energy businesses. The market assessment that comprised a major stage of the project initiation is presented here. The financial performance of the SOGERV businesses is then summarised for comparison. It is found that market assessment recommendations for smaller, more affordable portable products were largely accurate. The established businesses tested this market with a range of products and analysis shows that sales are largely in line with market assessment product predictions. However, a larger market than predicted appears to exist and that there is more appetite for the larger 'household-scale' portable products than anticipated. Productive Use of Energy (PUE) customers were harder to establish and were limited to a small number of barber shop, cold-drink sales, video show and shop lighting customers. Stand-alone PV systems were not affordable for the majority and most PUE customers co-located with the charging infrastructure, suggesting a need to facilitate enhanced co-location opportunities or for electricity distribution infrastructure. The findings of the paper demonstrate the opportunity for community focussed energy businesses to support economic development (SDG6) and access to modern sustainable energy (SDG7), and are relevant for energy practitioners, decision makers and planners supporting SDG implementation in developing countries.