Feasibility study for a solar PV microgrid in Malawi

Aran Eales, Lloyd Archer, Hannah Buckland, Damien Frame, Stuart Galloway

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

1 Citation (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


Energy is an enabler for development but electricity access is still unobtainable for over 1 million people in developing countries. In Malawi, less than 12% of the population have access to grid electricity and in rural areas this is as low as 1%. Solar microgrids are emerging as a cost competitive, low carbon and reliable method for offering energy access in developing countries. This paper provides a summary of the process and key findings in assessing technical and financial feasibility of a solar microgrid in Malawi, including system design definition, business model discussion and sensitivity analysis of key parameters through techno-economic modelling. The novel approach developed utilises qualitative and quantitative information gathering and assessment in an iterative way to design a robust energy access solution in the most viable local location. The results show that the upper limit of the ‘expected energy use’ can be up to 5 times higher than the designed energy limit. Higher demand grids are shown to present c.20% lower levelised cost of energy for the cases considered and conversely, the ‘low demand’ grid case is shown to have c.48% higher levelised cost of energy . This represents a significant range of uncertainly in energy use prediction, which if not treated properly will adversely affect both energy access and microgrid business development. The research presented in this paper will address these challenges in the context of Malawi but is broadly applicable to other similar locations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2018 53rd International Universities Power Engineering Conference (UPEC)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781538629109
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018
EventThe 53rd International Universities Power Engineering Conference - Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow , United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sep 20187 Sep 2018
Conference number: 53


ConferenceThe 53rd International Universities Power Engineering Conference
Abbreviated titleUPEC2018
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • microgrid
  • solar PV
  • techno-economic modelling

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