Energy Business Initiative for Distributed Solar Photovoltaic Systems Adoption in Developing Countries: A Case of Uganda
Global trends in energy generation transition reveal increasing acceptance for renewable energy generation technologies. This is not only about the urge for energy independence and security, but also about the increased awareness and concerns of carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, and climate change. Global environmental concerns emanating from natural resource depletion, widespread deforestation, air pollution and water usage, all intimately related to climate change issues necessitate a transformative change that bypasses existing routines and initiates new mechanisms of knowledge sharing and invention. Such emerging environmental concerns associated with global sustainability are catalysts for clean technologies or radical eco-innovation offering unprecedented business opportunities. Such sustainability-related energy business opportunities that incorporate environmental and social concerns into development of new markets create general public goods with unpredictable private benefits, the promotion of which thus calls for the public sector involvement. In recent years, governments have focused on fostering more decentralized approaches in policy and production of scientific knowledge in an effort to better accommodate the complexity of environmental decision making. Governments are becoming active participants in government-business partnerships in a pursuit to produce public goods, particularly in the implementation of the decentralized power generating systems that enhance significant environmental change. Energy policies such as the feed in tariff and net-metering policies have been widely adopted and utilized to foster the implementation of renewable energy technologies globally. However, although these energy policies recorded success in developed countries, they encountered challenges that resulted in their struggling and/or failure in most of the developing countries. Therefore, for the developing countries to exploit their energy resources effectively and efficiently, literature asserts that suitable concerted efforts that include, among others, policy frameworks that are consistently updated as well as innovation support mechanisms, such as off-grid solutions and newer energy business models should be adopted. This study was subdivided into two steps. The first step of the thesis addresses the sustainable benefits of implementing an alternative energy technology by a community, while the second step of the thesis addresses the energy billing scheme for energy business initiatives that could be deployed to foster the uptake of the best choice alternative energy technology by the community, in this case the solar photovoltaic technology. Overall, the study considered the industrial sector for the implementation of the energy business initiative for the case of Uganda and some other selected Sub-Saharan African countries. Under the first step, emphasis was centered on the utilization of the sustainable livelihoods approach in assessing the impact of implementing alternative energy technologies on the community’s capitals, namely, social, natural, financial, physical, and human capitals in Uganda. The assessment yielded solar photovoltaic technology, having recorded positive impact on all the community capitals as the best choice alternative energy technology to implement in the community. Furthermore, the study evaluated the environmental and economic impacts of importing solar photovoltaic modules from overseas manufacturing countries to Uganda based on the lifecycle assessment approach and importation cost incurred analysis. Overall, the analysis results revealed that solar photovoltaic modules’ importation has a short energy payback time and greenhouse gases payback time as well as the importation cost incurred, that are mainly dependent on the manufacturing country considered. Having established the sustainability benefits of implementing solar photovoltaic technology in the community and on a global scale, under the second step, the study examined the energy business models around the world by considering both the developed and developing countries, with the emphasis on the customer-side renewable energy business models. With recorded struggles and/or failure of schemes such as feed-in tariff and net metering in developing countries, this study proposed an energy billing scheme known as the store-on grid scheme model by using the case of Uganda. The store-on grid scheme model was proposed to facilitate grid-tied rooftop solar photovoltaic systems implementation in developing countries. The study depicts how the store-on grid scheme addresses the shortfalls of the existent billing schemes. The store-on grid scheme comprises of two aspects, namely, the costs analysis and benefits analysis for the stakeholders involved. Furthermore, the store-on grid scheme was replicated and assessed for its performance and viability comparison to the time of use schemes for the industrial sector application in selected Sub-Saharan African countries. Overall, the assessment of the store-on grid scheme’s performance revealed viability potential in most of the selected countries in the study. It was also established that the high lending interest rate in some countries is a key hindrance to the viability of the store-on grid scheme application. Also, the study examined the diffusion potential of rooftop solar photovoltaic technology under the store-on grid scheme in the selected countries by utilizing the Bass model of innovation diffusion based on the historical solar photovoltaic implementation data of the respective countries. Likewise, the government’s role under the store-on grid scheme was extensively examined to determine its financial obligations towards the success of the scheme in achieving the forecasted solar photovoltaic capacity over a set timeline. Furthermore, the appropriate greenhouse gases emissions avoided by the selected countries through the implementation of the forecasted solar photovoltaic capacity was assessed. Since several Sub-Saharan African countries rely on fossil fuels for their electricity generation, the adoption of the forecasted solar photovoltaic capacity revealed high amounts of greenhouse gases emissions that could be avoided by these individual countries. The study also recommended suitable policy implications of the presented energy business initiative and how the investigations undertaken herein can be extended further, especially in other countries and regions around the world.