A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Energy Systems - Chapter 5: Sustainable Solar energy Collection and Storage for Rural Sub-Saharan Africa

Elsevier, A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Energy Systems With Special Focus on Photovoltaic Systems, 2018, Pages 81-107.
Rhys G. Charles, Matthew L. Davies, Peter Douglas and Ingrid L. Hallin

In 2014 more than 1.2 billion people, which forms 16% of the world’s population, were without access to electricity. Over half of these were in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). While photovoltaics (PV) appear to offer the possibility of ‘green’ electricity for rural areas, PV electricity generation and storage have major environmental impacts associated with production, use, and disposal. Here we discuss sustainable solar energy generation and storage for rural SSA in the context of the ‘circular economy’. We begin with the climate and geography, both physical and human, of the region, then introduce the ideas of the circular economy, and discuss silicon PV in light of these ideas. We identify a basic energy requirement for rural households and consider the sustainability of a low cost PV and energy storage system capable of meeting this requirement; and finally, we briefly discuss current developments in PV technology, and how these might be used in this application.