5. Thoughts

  • Is significant profit possible for a new market entrant, or is the industry only really open to established experts?
  • Supply to household use, or to industry? What promotes growth? What has less risk?
  • Supply to the grid, create own mini-grid, or sell standalone systems?
  • An energy business would be as much investing in the country as in any physical hardware, land or infrastructure

  • How do we estimate the costs of running a solar farm?

    • Capital costs
      • Land
      • Solar panel arrays
      • Inverters, transformers, monitoring, structure
      • Other electrical components?
      • Delivery, tax, duty
      • Installation cost
      • Infrastructure costs of connection to grid?
    • Running costs
      • Cleaning
      • Security
      • Maintenance
      • Licensing
    • Depreciation
      • Lifespan of 25 years depending on hardware
  • What are the options for building a solar farm?

    1. Find an international solar developer willing to do a project in Malawi
      • Unlikely to generate a reasonable return due to high cost
    2. Train myself in electrical and solar installation then hire labour locally and manage installation myself
      • Likely to take several years
      • Would require living in Malawi for an extended period of time
    3. Find African expertise, for example in South Africa
      • South Africa is unknown territory, so hard to find and negotiate with developers
    4. Find local electricians and then fund their solar training abroad
      • Where would they train, and for how long?
      • Risk of overseeing the project ourselves with no experience and newly trained workers
    5. Same as 4. above, but hire a consultancy to design the build
      • Reduces risk of build
      • Source materials ourselves, but get consultancy to validate
      • Potentially ask consultancy to validate installation at different stages
      • How much would such a service cost?
      • Requires living in Malawi during build
  • Does Malawi make sense? Based on thoughts so far:

    • Malawi
      • Con - Risk of developing country
      • Con - No local expertise
      • Con - Materials would have to be imported
      • Pro - Good levels of solar radiation
      • Pro- Probably low bureaucracy
    • UK
      • Con - Low levels of solar radiation
      • Con - Labour is expensive
      • Con - High levels of bureaucracy
      • Pro - Plenty of local expertise
      • Pro - Home country
    • Germany
      • Con - Low levels of solar radiation
      • Con - Labour is expensive
      • Pro - Plenty of local expertise
      • Pro - Land is potentially less expensive than UK
      • Pro - Potentially better subsidies than UK?
    • China
      • Con - Don't yet know enough - subsidies, tariffs, cost of land, bureaucracy?
      • Con - Can't speak the local language
      • Pro - Should have good levels of solar radiation in certain regions
      • Pro - Should have good level of local expertise and not too expensive
      • Pro - Materials can be purchased locally
      • Pro - Would have help finding contacts

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