Project Everest

Cost Structure Malawi: Analysis of costs

Over the July month in Malawi, the Energy Assessment team focused predominantly on the emphasise and define stages of the design thinking process. However, during the final weeks, progress started in the prototyping stage and we thought we should share our findings.

The primary issue we are faced with in Malawi is price. The average daily income is estimated to be less than $1 USD. When researching existing photovoltaic systems, we identified three primary components. The solar panel ($14), the battery ($9) and the inverter ($28). With the price points sourced from a local Malawian hardware store.

During our surveying, we identified the three most desired uses for electricity from individuals without access to electricity being; lighting, cooking and charging mobile phones. A realisation occurred from this data, which was that lighting and phone charging could be achieved through direct current (DC) electricity, which would completely remove the need for an inverter, which is certainly the most expensive aspect of a small photovoltaic system.

With this understanding, the Malawian Energy Assessment team advises further research and prototyping into creating a small photovoltaic system that bypasses the inverter to assess viability and function. A basic Business Model Canvas will be attached as a supporting document.



On a side note, one of the primary alternatives for electrical lighting is kerosene lamps. The negative health impacts of these lamps have been increasingly stressed by the World Health Organisation. Therefore, there is also an important health aspect to implementing solar alternatives in Malawi and other countries. More information about the detrimental health effects of Kerosene can be found on the World Health Organisation’s website. 

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edited on 2nd July 2018, 19:07 by Wade Tink

Theo Oehlmann Dec 4, 2017

Interesting to see that after one week on project, we are actually coming back to this idea of a basic solar solution without the need for costly inverters (at least initially). See Mallory's post on ModSol. Furthermore, we came across DC 12V household appliances here in Malawi, e.g. Pro Solar Solar Refrigerator. The outside of the box showed a very simple set up of a medium sized solar panel, a 12V/100Ah deep cycle battery and the fridge. We seriously question the quality and advertising of such products. Would be interesting to hear if anyone has seen a device like this in action? We really do try to keep the inverter out of the equation, but a full size 12V fridge just seems too good to be true...

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Wade Tink Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Customer Segment

This has the BMC outline for the business at this point in time and details some price components.

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Ella Grier Jan 6, 2019

Status label removed: Customer Segment

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