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Solar energy in Malawi is the best power alternative that is gaining momentum. With the existing power crisis in the country amid increased demand, everyone is trying to find an alternative power source. Malawi is one of the countries in the “sun continent” therefore it has all the potential to tap into the natural solar bank.
While it is only 10% of the population which is connected to the main Escom grid, electricity blackouts have now become a normal thing. Almost, on daily basis, there are at least five hours of electricity blackouts in cities except on Sunday’s. As a result of the persistent power blackouts, many businesses are affected. Life of ordinary people is disturbed.
In rural areas, most families still live in the dark. Majority of rural homes housing over 80% of the country’s population are not connected to the national grid. However, the demand for electricity in the rural areas has increased in recent years.
For example, the coming of mobile phones forces people in the villages to find the power to charge their gadgets. The same is the case when it comes to charging their Chinese lighting torches which are relatively cheaper and have replaced the paraffin lamps.
Why solar energy in Malawi?
Solar energy in Malawi is now the way to go to ease the power shortage. The advantages of solar energy in Malawi are many. One advantage of solar energy is that it a reliable energy alternative. As long as there is sun shining one is assured of having enough power to light their homes.
Solar energy is also considered to be environmental friendly. Most of the energy that Escom generates is hydro-based. Hydropower has of now proved to be unreliable since the water levels in Shire River keeps on decreasing. As a way to supplement the hydroelectricity, the power generating body opted for fuel powered generators. The problem is that fuels (diesel) are non-renewable and are very costly. Hence, they put the burden on the consumer as well as the environment at the same time.
Furthermore, the cost of solar panels in Malawi continues to decline. Looking at the pertinent need for energy one would wonder why many other people don’t own solar products yet. The answer is simply due to the high upfront cost of solar kits. Since over 80% of the Malawian population is poor-they live below a dollar a day they cannot afford the cost of solar panels and solar batteries. However, the cost of owning solar kits is decreasing with time giving hope that more people will manage to have power in their homes and businesses in the near future.
As already pointed out the more people have access to reliable power the better the living experience. Reliable directly improves the economic status of individual citizens. Small-scale business such as barber shops, saloons, printing shops, electronics shops requires sustainable energy to grow and sustain families.
Social service delivery in schools and hospitals will be improved. Students will be able to read better using solar powered lights compared to using candles. In hospitals where child delivery occurs in darkness will be happy to deliver in full lights.
Solar powered irrigation systems will also contribute to ensuring there is food security in the country. If solar energy in Malawi is made available to farmers they will grow crops more than once a year. Solar pumps may also be used to pump self-drinking water to many homes that have no access to tap water.