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close this bookPhotovoltaic Household Electrification Programs - Best Practices (WB)
close this folderBest practices: conclusions and recommendations
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOvercome the first cost barrier
View the documentEstablish a sustainable infrastructure
View the documentQuality products and services
View the documentGovernment support
View the documentDonor support

Establish a sustainable infrastructure

8.7 The start-up phase of solar home system marketing requires special attention to sustainable infrastructure development. This requires careful market niche identification, reliance on local capabilities for implementation, and appropriate training programs for technicians and users.

8.8 Target Specific Areas. The economic niche for solar home systems covers remote or isolated areas where loads and load densities are low. Rural electrification programs should explicitly consider solar home systems as part of a portfolio of technologies that can provide least-cost electricity services. Careful market research should identify which type of service is best suited to each community. Targeting helps solar home system programs serve appropriate rural concentrations and facilitates cost-effective energy service delivery.

8.9 Use Local Organizations. Local grass-roots organizations are best equipped to implement solar home system programs in sparsely populated areas. A community organization, NGO, or locally-based private firm knows its potential customers and understands local traditions, customs, and constraints. This eases troubleshooting and problem solving. Local organizations can respond to calls in a matter of hours or days rather than the weeks that might be required with a central agency. A suitable local organization can serve as an ESCO. A new organization should be created only as a last resort and requires the full support of the government and community. It is better to build on existing marketing and retail networks or to use leasing, consumer financing, or cash sales arrangements to deliver PV services than to create a new organization.

8.10 Ensure Training Technicians. Rapid, responsive service will satisfy customers and satisfied customers are important marketing agents. For this reason, well-trained technicians are needed to install, maintain, and repair solar home systems. While some users can perform simple maintenance procedures, trained technicians are still required after installation since experience has shown that, in the long term, reliance on users for maintenance can impair the performance of solar home systems. When systems fail, users are less likely to pay fees regularly. This affects a program's financial sustainability. To avoid unexpected "down-time" in service, technicians should be available locally and equipped with adequate tools and spare parts. Follow-up training is also important after a program has been under way for a number of years. Equipment will require more frequent care, new technicians must be trained, and existing staff will need to upgrade their skills.