| Photo-voltaic applications in rural areas of the developing world |
|Identifying the niche for photovoltaics|
|Where do PV systems fit?|
The progress that hats been made in PV technology means that the costs of the centralized stations built in the 1980s would now be lower. Nevertheless, the inherent disadvantages of high capital investment and the lack of flexibility in meeting load growth of these stations remain.
Another major problem with centralized PV stations is that the equipment is extremely sophisticated, and repair and maintenance are costly, especially when technicians have to be flown in from the country of origin of the equipment. There also tends to be a high level of consumer dissatisfaction, because households connected to what appears to be a conventional grid expect the same level of service.
Interest in centralized PV systems has declined in the light of the experience gained to date. They do not appear to have a niche in the developing world, at least in the coming decade. A GTZ review stated, "Central-station village systems do not today constitute a viable alternative to diesel-based isolated grids, and not even a dramatic decline in the price of solar cells would alter this" (Biermann and others 1992).