Assessment of solar home systems and solar mini grids: a case for Sinda and Mpanta villages in Zambia.

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Musonda, Francis
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The University of Zambia.
The purpose of the research was to assess the impact of the two types of solar photovoltaic technologies which are available in our rural communities in Zambia. This study presents the results of socio-technical assessment of solar photovoltaic interventions namely solar home systems (SHS) and solar mini-grid (SMG), which have been used to electrify Sinda villages and Mpanta Village. The study is focused on technical, financial, and institutional aspects along with the social impact assessment of PV based electrification. The results of the study show that the impacts of the solar PV systems used for electrification have been largely positive, especially in benefits of uplifting the living standards of these communities such as, increased refrigeration storage and ease in studying by school going children. In undertaking the research, it was observed that the SMG and SHS in the considered villages basically operate on the same principle and the types of appliance that are allowed to be used on the systems are similar. However, the SMG is superior to the SHS in that it supplies power to a larger community whilst the SHS is operated at individual level. The beneficiaries of the SMG are residential clients, schools, rural health centers (RHS), harbor depots and churches within these communities. Another factor that makes SMG more beneficial is that clients with less resource are able to benefit since they are able to be connected to the grid for free or in some cases are asked to pay a small connection fee. This was the case in Mpanta were the Government of Zambia initially allowed clients to be connected for free to the SMG whilst their counterparts in Sinda village are asked to pay a connection fee of K100 (US $9.68). However, in Mpanta village, would-be clients at present are asked to pay a connection fee of K40 (US $3.87).
Thesis of Master of Renewable Energy Engineering.