With no clear standards for quality solar panels on the market, Brenda Akankunda, a researcher and Energy Economist at Makerere University Business School (MUBS), says the public is misled into buying solar products that don’t fit the hype attached to them.
attributing the decreasing interest in solar energy in the country to the
generally low-quality products on the market.
With no clear standards for
quality solar products on the market, Brenda Akankunda, a researcher and Energy
Economist at Makerere University Business School (MUBS), says the public is
misled into buying solar products that don’t fit the hype attached to them.
As a result, she says
there are increasing reports showing that people are pulling away from solar
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Grace Onjiru, a Senior Standards Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards
(UNBS) acknowledges the loopholes in the standardization of solar products,
saying that up to 80% of the solar products on the market are fake. She, however,
says that they are challenged with enforcement due to the lack of an umbrella body
for solar energy providers that would ensure that their members comply.
According to standards
for solar products, Onjiru says they among others require that batteries should
have a charge controller with specific charging timelines and how often
batteries should be serviced. She says that most of the initial solar panels
didn’t meet customer requirements partly because of false advertising with many
dealers hyping the panels to be performing better than they are able to.
To be able to improve quality and access, Akankunda now urges the government to
establish solar mini-grids especially in areas where water for hydro power
generation isn’t possible for instance in northern Uganda.
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For her, especially
now that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) is reviewing the
renewable energy policy, customer satisfaction and access should be at the
heart of the provisions, which should make the power affordable to users.
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Already some work is
being done says David Birimumaiso, an Energy Officer in the ministry. He
says at the formulation of the policy in 2007, they were more concerned with
uptake such that people could gain interest in using renewable energy where
Currently, he says, while grid connection coverage is at 24%, renewable energy
stands at 27%. He, however, notes that this
is still low considering that their target is for renewable energy to
contribute 60% to the total power supply in the country by 2030.
Joselyn Musiime who manages one of the solar energy providers in the country
Foundation Rural Energy Services (FRES) Uganda, says that they have long wanted
to set up mini-grids in Uganda but the policy hasn’t been clear even as they
think this initiative can drive up solar energy uptake.