The repair, reuse and refurbishment of electronic products is already widespread in off-grid energy markets. However, what are the benefits?
Improving repairability extends the life cycle of the product, resulting in less electronic waste, lower material consumption and lower transportation costs, making it a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option. Local entrepreneurs can also build skills to grow their business, create jobs, and achieve economic growth.
Why not just build products that are easier to repair?
The new European standard for assessing repairability, reusability and upgradeability has introduced steps to improve the sustainability of electronic and electrical products. This offers the off-grid solar sector the opportunity to be inspired by the ability to repair and to improve it.
Many manufacturers are already relying on repairs while adopting or adapting supporting business models depending on their individual circumstances and products. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and improved repairability does not mean a decrease in payment security or user security.
There are widespread challenges in improving repairability in off-grid markets, but there are short-term avenues that would demonstrate the off-grid solar industry's commitment to the right to repair.
First and foremost, the creation of standardization and certification systems ensures that manufacturers develop more easily repairable products. This, along with improved reporting, will improve understanding of repairability. With readily available information, access to these innovative technologies can be extended to rural and off-grid environments.
Repairs should be a fundamental characteristic for off-grid devices – more so than for the conventional device market. Innovators like Lorentz, Mango Solar and Innovex are already proving the business case. The following actions will help build better access to energy and a more resilient local economy.
For more information, see Efficiency for Access and the University of Edinburgh's new working paper “Pathways to Repair in the Global Off-Grid Solar Sector”.
This blog was copied from the original written 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.