Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an economy highly dependent on agriculture.About 83% of Malawi’s 16.8 million people are located in rural areas, with approximately 75% of thepopulation living a subsistence farming lifestyle (Trading Economics 2016). Access to the nationalelectricity grid in Malawi is currently just 9.8% and in rural areas, this falls to just 2% (SE4All 2016).This study evaluates the viability of using locally manufactured PV-wind hybrid systems to offer accessto electricity to remote communities in off-grid regions of Malawi. Whilst solar PV panels must beimported, 1kW scale Small Wind Turbines (SWTs) can, and already have been manufactured in Malawi.Although it is not possible to manufacture an entire PV-wind hybrid system in Malawi, the ability toconstruct SWTs locally offers the potential to shift a greater portion of the value chain back into thecountry. This can create local jobs, feed money back into the local economy and build local capacity forinstallation, operation and maintenance.
“If we can transfer the skills to local technicians and produce everything within thecountry, then all other things being constant, this is a very powerful economicargument.” – Conwell Chisale, Government of Malawi, Department of Energy Affairs,28th January 2016
What is more, where the wind and solar resources are complementary, the diversity in powergeneration sources can offer a much more consistent supply of electricity, significantly increasing theavailability of energy to the end-user and/or decrease the size of the required battery bank.In partnership, Community Energy Malawi (CEM), Wind Empowerment and the University ofStrathclyde were commissioned by the Scottish Government to carry out a multidisciplinary analysisdesigned to evaluate the potential for this technology in Malawi. The methodology for the studyinvolved 3 key stages:
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