The deployment of PV/diesel hybrid systems in developing countries is being held back by poorly planned management and inadequate service regimes, a study claims.
A report by the Photovoltaic Power Systems Program of the International Energy Agency said that although off-grid PV/diesel hybrid systems had the potential to make a significant contribution to rural electrification, their take-up is being hampered by a range of capacity-related factors.
The study looked at instances where off-grid solar/diesel hybrids had succeeded and failed.
It said that where projects had failed, a number of factors were to blame, including “inappropriate or unclear” organisational schemes to operate and maintain systems, inadequate revenue and unavailable after-sales service.
As a basic minimum, the report said a project should generate sufficient cash flow to cover operation and maintenance costs. Because it is sometimes difficult and costly to retain skilled personnel in a remote village, an operator could operate on a bundle of hybrid systems in a given area to reduce O&M costs, the report said.
The report also pointed out that private investors are still reluctant to invest in rural electrification projects due to the perceived risks of doing business in such areas.
Because of this it said governments and NGOs should work to set up public-private partnerships to give investors the confidence to participate.
And to ensure the long-term sustainability of hybrid projects, it said adequate buy-in by communities was essential, alongside adequate training for to build local O&M capabilities.