Voluntary Accreditation of Solar PV Businesses in Kenya…..
Although the Kenyan solar PV market is often considered as a successful commercially driven market, market spoilage due to poor quality of products as well as design, installation and maintenance services has significantly hindered market growth. According to the 2009 census, of the 6.7 million households not connected to the grid, only 1.6% (142,000 households) have a solar PV system; this in a country where the solar PV market started in the mid 80’s. This number has significantly increased with the introduction of low cost lighting products 4-5 years ago; statistics indicate solar PV lantern sales of about 1,000,000 units in 2014.
A field inspection and testing study of installed systems was undertaken by KEREA in 2009 and covered 76 randomly systems across 7 provinces. It revealed that for only 48% of the surveyed systems did the users feel that the system had met their expectations. Technical assessment of these systems further revealed that only 36% were properly installed and only 10% we correctly designed.
More recently focus group discussions undertaken by Lighting Africa as part of the awareness campaign for low cost lighting products revealed that the public impression of solar PV was that it was expensive and it didn’t work.
With the objective of reducing market spoilage and increasing consumer confidence in solar PV as a viable electrification option, KEREA is implementing a voluntary accreditation framework for solar PV businesses in Kenya. The process consist of:
- Developing a criterion for accreditation of RE product and service providers that would be based on e.g. businesses adhering to an agreed upon code of conduct, selling a certain quality of products and having certain verifiable technical capacity/skills.
- Promoting the accreditation system to solar PV businesses country wide and providing guidance on what they need to do to meet the accreditation criteria.
- Receiving applications from interested businesses and implementing the auditing and testing process for these businesses. This would include e.g. testing of randomly selected products, visits to selected installed systems to check design and installation standards
- Promotion of accredited businesses, engineers or technicians to the public and potential markets through branding and/or providing their details to the public through press, media, awareness campaigns and the KEREA website.
- Developing and implementing sustainable process of regular and continuous monitoring and verification which would include a feedback/complaints desk.
KEREA seeks to continue these activities by building on what has been achieved by the Lighting Africa Kenya program and complementing the ongoing activities under the GIZ/SNV EnDev project; i.e. linking testing and accreditation to marketing and expanding the scope from low cost lighting products (lanterns) to larger solar home systems.
The approach complements and builds on existing solar PV regulations and standards.It also complements GIZ/Strathmore PPP which seeks to build solar PV technical training capacity and well as local capacity for testing of solar PV products. Both elements are key requirements for the accreditation process…