Community Rural Electrification and Development (CRED)

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The Scottish Government announced in October 2008 that a EEE Department project will be given the go ahead to undertake a solar powered study focusing on installations in four rural communities in Malawi. Academic and research staff in the Department now have funds to work with partners in Malawi under the Malawi Development Programme of the Scottish Government's International Development Fund. The Community Rural Electrification and Development (CRED) project has received approximately £140,000 of funds from the Scottish Government and will run for two and half years from 1 October 2008. 

The project seeks to establish a sustainable model for renewable energy development in Malawi where power supplies in rural areas are very rare - only 7% of the population have an electricity supply. The sustainable model focuses strong community involvement in the electricity supply from scoping and design through to installation and in-life maintenance. Staff from EEE, together with Gary Connor from the Mechanical Engineering Department, will work with the four rural communities and the Government of Malawi's Energy Department to establish resources, training and support for rural communities to own and benefit from their own solar powered electricity supply.

Another element of sustainability of the project is that the solar power systems will be financed through a microfinance fund which will bring financial responsibility to the communities and the opportunity to grow enterprises that have the potential to generate income to pay for the installation.

The project also includes working closely with academics at the University of Malawi Polytechnic in Blantyre who will have a member of staff funded to support the design, installation and monitoring of the equipment. This facilitates the retention of knowledge and experience in Malawi when the project finishes.

One EEE researcher, Damien Frame, is in Malawi on secondment and will act as the local project manager for the CRED project. Two Scottish project partners with knowledge, skills and interest in this area are also involved in the project: Scottish and Southern Energy (one of the top six companies in the UK), and Community Energy Scotland (who support communities in Scotland to develop renewable energy projects).

Now integrated within the first year undergraduate course, students from EEE have been gaining knowledge of the involvement of the Department in the CRED project. Working in small groups as part of their EE104 course, students have been conducting background research on energy use in developing countries and also designing an electrical system for a medical clinic in a rural African community.


Related information

A picture showing a frame from a video about the CRED project. The frame shows a ring of light from the sun which is setting behind a telegraph pole.