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A study into the techno-economic feasibility of photovoltaic and wind generated electricity for enhancement of sustainable livelihoods on Likoma Island in Malawi

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posted on 27.01.2015 by Collen Zalengera
This research investigated the techno-economic feasibility of increasing hours of electricity services on Likoma Island in Malawi; making use of solar photovoltaic and wind power in order to enhance sustainable livelihood. Likoma Island grid is operated independent of the mainland grid; and the island is supplied electricity by diesel generators which are scheduled for only 14 hours per day. The limited hours of electricity supply constrains the delivery of essential services and hinders people from achieving sustainable livelihoods. The research used empirical and modelled data of solar irradiance and hub height wind speed, photovoltaic and wind energy systems costs, diesel-generator operation costs, energy needs, energy use patterns, electricity demand profile, and prevailing socioeconomic conditions. Diesel, photovoltaic, and wind based energy systems feeding the Island s grid; and autonomous photovoltaic and wind energy systems for selected essential institutions were modelled and simulated using the Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables. Energy system solutions are proposed indicating cost factors and opportunities for the enhancement of sustainable livelihoods. The thesis argues that with the financial resources committed to the prevailing 14-hours supply of electricity by diesel generators, it is feasible to provide Likoma Island with electricity for 24 hours every day by photovoltaic and wind based energy systems. A deployment model which uses excess energy from the modelled photovoltaic and wind power systems to serve non-grid loads and livelihood activities which are difficult to account for when sizing embedded renewable energy systems has been developed. The findings provide cost projections of photovoltaic and wind energy systems relative to diesel generators upon which investment and policy decisions can be made. Microscale wind maps at 10 m, 25 m, 40 m and 50 m have been developed for identification of potential wind turbine sites. Empirical socioeconomic data which are essential for the design of delivery mechanisms for renewable energy systems have been generated. The deployment model proposed by the research gives new insights into holistic ways of enhancing sustainable energy access in low-income communities. The interdisciplinary insights provided by this thesis can be applied in other countries and communities with similar socioeconomic contexts to Likoma Island.


United Kingdom Commonwealth Scholarship Commission



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Collen Zalengera

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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:

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

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