n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - The status of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal applications in Malawi : special issue research paper

Volume 4, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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The current status for solar energy applications in Malawi, a Southern African country with approximately 85 % of the 13.6 million people living in the rural areas will be explored. At present only 7.6% of the Malawian population has access to electricity. This figure accounts for 20% of the urban population and only 1% of the rural population. Solar energy presents a viable alternative because the country has good solar radiation resource of around 21 MJ/m2/day for most times of the year. Although basic solar research is not well established in Malawi there are efforts to rectify this state of affairs by the government, institutions of higher learning, nongovernmental organizations and to a lesser extent the private sector. Applied research mainly focuses on the adaption of PV systems developed elsewhere for local use with the aim of improving the quality of livelihoods. Traditional thermal applications of solar energy still dominate. Common applications in this category include passive space and water heating, clothes drying, raw and semi-processed food and fish drying. Opportunities exist for improvements in efficiency and hygiene by adopting technologies such as solar water heating and solar stills. New applications such as solar thermal cooking and power generation have good potential, but require substantial investment. Current applications of solar PV include lighting, refrigeration, telecommunications and powering of low power electronic appliances. There are, however, several barriers faced in the penetration of solar; the main one being high cost of capital equipment and high cost of spares.

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