Building on the success of their 80kw Sitolo Solar Minigrid project, CEM received funding to carry out pre-feasibility studies, community engagement and partnership formation in 100 rural communities that lack access to sustainable energy.
Community Energy Malawi was established to help address Malawi’s abject poverty through implementing innovative renewable energy solutions which help people to address their energy needs in a sustainable way.
85% of Malawi’s population is rural but only 4% of this has access to grid electricity. In any case, the power supply through the grid is intermittent as demand often exceeds supply.
Annual per capita energy consumption in Malawi is very low at 292kWh. Biomass accounts for 89% of energy supply with massive pressure exerted on the country’s dwindling forestry reserves, which are being decimated at an estimated rate of 3%/year. The resultant effects are conspicuous in ecological degradation, climate change, gender inequality; compromised service delivery in agriculture, health, education and economy; and general decline in human health and wellbeing. Deforestation is counted as one key driver of climate change through removal of carbon sinks.
CEM is a Malawian non-profit and licensed mini-grid developer. It also supplies and installs renewable energy equipment and is an advocate for community energy. It has trail-blazed initiatives in Malawi’s remoter areas helping thousands of people meet their energy needs in 17 districts. Its work has been featured in both local and international media including the BBC and Reuters.
The Pebble Trust grant has enabled CEM to embark on a programme of meeting village committees across several regions in Malawi to discuss and agree the scope for solar-powered mini-grids to serve their communities. The output will be a set of agreements and a business plan setting out how CEM can deliver an overall mini-grid programme covering these communities. This will then be used to seek large-scale investment to take the programme forward.