Loughborough University
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A post-installation analysis of solar PV-diesel hybrid systems for school electrification in Sabah, Malaysia

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posted on 2017-04-19, 14:14 authored by Abdul M. Mahmud
Alternative energy technology has been used widely in rural electrification program (REP) all over the world for many years now. Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass, are the preferred choices given the abundant resources available on site and the sophistication of the technologies involved. Combinations of two or more of the resources, together with an energy storage system and occasionally a conventional energy generator, create a hybrid system, which is reliable and durable. In Malaysia, solar photovoltaic (PV) base systems, implemented on a large scale, can provide round-the-clock electricity services for areas that are inaccessible by the electricity grid network. One of Malaysia s REP initiatives is solar PV-diesel hybrid systems for 160 schools in rural Sabah. The systems have been in operation for several years, but studies in the program are limited. Thus, understanding the system operation and functional is a highly valuable experience and lessons can be learned for implementation of the rural electrification program (REP). The overall aim of the research is to evaluate the REP in social, organizational, technical and economic aspects of the program that the findings can facilitate the stakeholders, such as the policy makers and implementers for current and future approaches, measures and decisions on REP activities and initiatives in Malaysia. This thesis has described the approaches on investigating the rural school s electrification program in Sabah. Analysis of system operation and function is conducted by examining and evaluating the recorded data from the system. A set of technical indicators is introduced in the form of system performance indicators and system reliability indicators. Furthermore, comparisons are made between the actual system operation and the optimum system configuration based on the actual data of the renewable energy resources, electricity energy consumption and costs in installation and operation. A field study was conducted at fifteen rural schools that use the solar PV system to determine the effectiveness of the program in transforming the rural schools to better learning environments and livelihoods. The findings indicate that most system components were found to be in good operation, and the operation of the solar PV system agreed to the indicators of system performance and system reliability. Additionally, the system reliability indicators can be seen as a vital tool not only to identify the values of the system capacity but also for prediction measures in analysing the durability of each component. The analysis of the actual system operation provides optimum values in terms of technical indicators, whereas the optimized system shows economic advantages. The findings show a high degree of responses from the end users in the level of satisfaction, appreciation, motivation and academic excellence. Nevertheless, several improvements are required to enhance the sustainability elements of the REP, especially from the organizational and governance perspectives. These includes effective coordination among the rural development-related agencies, the improvement on the transition between installation and maintenance work, efficient reporting process and training and awareness program need to be extended to every end user for sustainability in information and knowledge.


Malaysia, Public Service Department.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Abdul Muhaimin Mahmud

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en