Currently the Pico PV systems' market is increasing alarmingly in Ethiopia. This uncontrolled diffusion of solar Pico PV products is a major concern as most products that are imported/distributed legally or illegally are characterized by poor qualities, not durable, some non branded and not warranted. This poses a great challenge for the emerging market of Solar Pico PV technologies in Ethiopia.
Pico PV Diffusion - Problems
In Ethiopia, there is no control mechanism regarding Pico PV quality and standards Including certification. Most Pico PVs available in the market, have no quality certificates neither from lighting Africa nor from any other legal certification organization. This makes it difficult to establish consumer trust as they have no quality standards to judge the products.
For example, a consumer who buys cheap products and had bad experiences will be wary of other quality products as he/she will also expect the quality product to break down as quickly as the cheap product. This makes it difficult to achieve consumer loyalty and establish a market for quality Pico PV products.
Pico PVs are generally expensive with abnormal profit and cannot be afforded by the rural community. In addition, there are also price irregularities such that the Pico PV products with the same brand in the same area could have different prices. Therefore the high upfront cost of Pico PV as well as the price irregularity is an impeding factor for creating a market.
In addition, there is no clarity on PicoPV systems custom tax exemption.This further complicates the price model for Pico PVs.
Spare Parts Availability
The Pico PV systems are imported from foreign importers and in many cases, there are no spare parts for the Pico PV products. In these cases, the customers are forced to wait for the new parts or buy a new system. Both the situations are not favourable for the consumer and impedes the growth of the Pico PV markets in Ethiopia. Similarly, there is no disposal mechanism of worn-out solar components in Ethiopia.This raises the question of waste management for environmental protection.
It is important to remind clean energy developing actors/NGOS, GOs and policy makers to design viable control system for illegally imported and poor quality solar products. It is also crucial to have Pico PV testing and regulatory institutions in Ethiopia. Moreover it is important to trigger research institutions/Universities to involve in such community based researches in accessing quality and cost effective solar products to rural end users.There is also a need to have trained and licensed solar suppliers and retailers.
These all enhance the demand of Pico PV in off grid rural households, areas for which solar PV system will be primary (not an alternative) source of energy since grid connection is unlikely to happen in the near future due to electricity distribution difficulties for scattered rural settlement in the Ethiopia context.