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Pathways to Repair in the Global Off-Grid Solar Sector

Many in the global off-grid solar sector are motivated by the prospect of building a more sustainable future.

As the world seeks to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an opportunity for the sector to show new leadership. Thinking more holistically across the life cycle of off-grid products would allow the sector to connect the UN’s goals for universal energy access to its goals for sustainable consumption and production.

To this end, we have identified seven short- and long-term pathways to enhancing repairability in the sector focused on standards, incentives, business models, product design, reporting and awareness raising, and research

 

1. Standards and certification

Few industry stakeholders would support the introduction of mandatory standards on repair by governments or regulators at this stage in the sector’s growth. But key stakeholders in the sector do recognise that sector wide repairability standards can add value for off-grid solar businesses and accept that standards are a vital tool for enhancing pathways to repairability.

 

2. Policy and fiscal incentives

There are different strategies to enhance repairability across the sector through policy action and fiscal incentives.

  • Update procurement policies
  • Use investment to drive change
  • Incentivise repair

 

3. Local manufacturing and repair services

The alternative to designing new products that can be repaired in the future is to repair what is already there, by building businesses that extend the life of products, supporting local manufacturing and repair services.

Emerging archetypes demonstrate how repair strategies can be incorporated into or made complementary to existing business models.

 

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Related article: Solar power: the dark side

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4. Business and impact metrics

Building repair and repairability into existing social, economic and environmental impact metrics for the off-grid solar industry - like those supported by GOGLA - is a key lever for changing design practices and business models. Repair delivers multiple benefits. Making these benefits a visible part of impact reporting and evaluation will help to reward companies that are developing repairable products and business, incentivise their competitors, and provide investors with appropriate measures of success.

 

5. Product design

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to enhancing repairability in product design. Solar products, and the companies that manufacture them, come in all shapes and sizes. Different approaches will make sense for different products and different companies.

 

Excerpt from: Pathways to Repair in the Global Off-Grid Solar Sector (Efficiency for Access, 2020), p. 32-35.

 

Download the full document here.