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Monday, June 24, 2024

The Future of Solar Power in Malawi Looks Bright

Image: Wessam AL-Kholy/Shutterstock

Malawi has had a crisis in getting energy to its people, with three-quarters of its people having little to no access to electricity. That problem has only gotten worse due to the devastation of cyclone Freddy. However, there are more and more solar panel projects that are cropping up across the country to solve that problem. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of solar panels, the projects that are getting off the ground, and what the future can look like for renewable energy in Malawi. 

Getting Electricity to People

Solar panels are a great way to rapidly expand electricity access for more remote areas of Malawi. Over the past decade, the global cost of solar power has dropped significantly—by three quarters.

Solar power can connect people in remote places to more efficient ways of conducting business, growing crops, or accessing their hobbies. 

For example, people can now be sunflower farmers since oil presses are now available that weren’t before solar panels were installed. Solar panels also make life more disability-friendly for people with chronic illnesses or who have to use wheelchairs. Not having to make extensive treks from one place to another can make it easier for those people to make a living. 

While solar panels are a boon to the economy and people’s working lives, they also improve other parts of society. For example, those interested in sports or Bettors Malawi will be happy to know that an increase in solar panels will make it easier to bring overseas sports games into people’s homes and also to bring sports stadiums, fields and fields and games closer to local towns. 

The versatility of access that renewable energy brings to the table benefits a country like Malawi, which has historically struggled with bringing power into its more rural areas. This isn’t to mention the environmental benefits of renewable energy.

Current Solar Projects

There are many exciting solar projects currently popping up across Malawi. 

  • The Sitolo Project: is an example of a mini solar grid in rural Malawi that prioritizes powering a sunflower oil facility and maize mills. The project confirms that rural communities benefit from solar panel grids, providing better access to impoverished communities than the conventional electric grid. The Sitolo project connects over 700 people and three villages and hints at a bright future for solar power in Malawi. 
  • The Nkhotakota Solar Park: plans to develop 38 MW of electricity and has also entered its second phase. Serengeti Energy, an IPP from Kenya, has commissioned a solar park that will connect to the national grid of Malawi. 

It will have the capacity to generate 7 GWh of electricity every year, fed into the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) network. The project has also benefited from the U.S Development Finance Corporation and the Africa Trade Insurance Agency’s financial aid. 

  • Balaka Hospital Project: As of 2022, the Italian Rotary Club has partnered with the Blantyre Rotary club to provide solar panels for a Balaka hospital. There, technicians installed 88 panels, which allowed the hospital to run on electricity 24/7. The project was an integral milestone in Balaka’s healthcare and spelt good fortune for future endeavours elsewhere in Malawi. 
  • Fortune CP Office: in Malawi provides solar panel production and installation for many projects. For example, they’re working to provide solar panelling for over 40 secondary schools, teachers’ homes in 28 districts, and 14 different clinics across three regions. They also donate to sports development in poorer areas, hoping to use the solar system integration to build community outreach there.

The Future

The lowering cost of solar energy and the more remote access that it gives to electricity makes the future of Malawi’s power grid seem much brighter. After Cyclone Freddy has battered Mozambique and given way to over 400 fatalities, the time is now to rebuild. Reconstructing the destroyed homes and buildings with a forward-facing mindset towards a better economic and social model with electricity access could mean that we leave the disaster looking up rather than back.

The future for Malawi can be filled with more irrigation and industrial opportunities, as well as greater access to entertainment like sports betting or television. If foreign funds can be appropriately used and agreed upon for building a robust solar grid across Malawi, the future is full of possibilities. 

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