Repair, reuse and refurbishment of electronic products is already a common feature in off-grid energy markets, but what are the benefits?
Improving repairability extends the lifecycle of the product, resulting in less electronic waste, reduced material use and lower transportation costs, thus making it a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option. Local entrepreneurs can also build skills to grow their businesses, generating employment and economic growth.
Why not just build products that can be more easily repaired?
The new European standard for the assessment of repairability, reusability and upgradeability, has introduced steps for increasing the sustainability of electronic and electrical products. This presents the off-grid solar sector with an opportunity to draw inspiration from and lead in improving repairability.
Many manufacturers are already embracing repair, while adopting or adapting supportive business models depending on their individual circumstances and products. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, nor does increased repairability mean a reduction in payment security or user safety.
There are widespread challenges to improving repairability in off-grid markets, but there are short-term pathways that would demonstrate the off-grid solar industry’s commitment to the right to repair.
First and foremost, creating standardisation and certification schemes will ensure manufacturers innovate more easily repairable products. This, along with enhanced reporting, will improve the wider understanding of repairability. With readily available information, access to these innovative technologies can be expanded to rural and off-grid settings.
Repair should be a fundamental feature for off-grid appliances – more so than for the conventional appliance market. Innovators such as Lorentz, Mango Solar and Innovex are already proving the business case. Following suit will help build better energy access and more resilient local economies.
To learn more, read Efficiency for Access and the University of Edinburgh’s new working paper ‘Pathways to Repair in the Global Off-Grid Solar Sector’.
This blog has been adapted from the original, authored by Rowan Spear and Jamie Cross, University of Edinburgh, Jeremy Tait, Tait Consulting, and Richa Goyal, Energy Saving Trust, co-Secretariat, Efficiency for Access Coalition.