Stephanie Andrea Hirmer
Stakeholder participation to ensure sustainable development in developing countries: Making the deployment of pico-PV more sustainable along the value chain
Pico-PV is an excellent technology for bringing electric light to rural areas in the developing world and eliminating kerosene lanterns; the latter of which can reduce accidental burns and improve the health of users. However, as pico-PV is a comparatively new technology and, consequently, relatively little is known about appropriate methods for sustainable product development and deployment, current dissemination methods are arguably ineffective and unsustainable. The aim of this research is to help project developers, such as development organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector, to deploy pico-PV technologies widely, successfully and in a sustainable way. In order to achieve this, this research aims to develop a sustainability framework for pico-PV technologies focusing on sustainability at each stage on the value chain. In addition, the most prevailing gaps/shortfalls are identified.
Firstly, suitable sustainability dimensions were identified and employed. Secondly, current practices of project implementers for the deployment of pico-PV products were analysed against these sustainability dimensions. Thirdly, to close the existing knowledge gap, factors that contributed to the sustainable deployment of energy efficient biomass stoves were identified and adapted to pico-PV. This formed the base for the questionnaire which was used to conduct the 35 semi-structured key informants’ interviews. Lastly the data was analysed using data coding to highlight the most critical points that contribute to the sustainable deployment of pico-PV along the value chain and indicate the extent to which these are currently practised.
The analysis revealed that the most important aspects for the sustainable deployment of pico-PV systems at each stage along the value chain are; i) product design: the easy and safe operation of the product; ii) supply chain: a system for product return (facilitating repair) is established; iii) retail: the retailer understands the target market and; iv) end-use: the end-user is aware of product existence and benefits. The middle two of these aspects are the areas of greatest concern.
In the past most emphasis has been placed on product design. However, in light of these preliminary results, though design is important, in order to ensure sustainable product deployment more importance has to be placed on the establishment of a) a system for product return (facilitating repair) and b) creating product awareness, at the stages of supply and end-use (respectively).