Overview of Research at the Institution
The Department in collaboration with relevant stakeholders undertakes quality research that is relevant to society, the economy and the environment. The Departments research areas are vast so as to enable us to provide balanced insight into energy problems pertinent to Malawi. This is reflected in the major research focus areas, which are outlined below:
Most power plants have long useful lives of as long as more than 30 years after construction, however, technologies keep on evolving to become more effective and efficient – as a result old power plants have to be rehabilitated and upgraded with modern technology. Considering that most power plants in Malawi are hydro based, and were commissioned more than 30 years ago, the Department has intensified development of new power plants in both hydro and other sources of energy like solar, geothermal and coal. Renewable Energy technologies are new in Malawi, as such initiatives below have been adopted to sensitize and increase awareness of these clean technologies.
The Department deals with Energy Efficiency at the demand level. Energy efficiency has proven to be a quick fix in the energy demand gap and very fast to implement. The Department in collaboration with ESCOM is currently implementing Demand Side Management programmes, and is researching the potential for DSM with industrial electrical loads. We are also working on intensifying Energy Audits so as to recommend energy conservation measure to consumers. The National Statistical Office (NSO) anther other relevant stakeholders will be engaged. We are committed to promoting energy efficiency and offer trainings and advice on Energy Efficiency measures to interested stakeholders. Promotional materials are advertised in the newspapers and on the website.
After the test period a smaller-scale pilot project can be initiated to test whether the facility can deliver and is efficient. The Department has embarked on developing pilot plants in technologies that it intends to promote. The pilots projects range from;
- Solar – wind hybrid systems
- Household biogas plants
- Solar systems for schools
The pilot projects will be facilitating learning for stakeholders who would like to implement similar projects, students undertaking studies in similar technologies or any other interested stakeholders. A well functioning pilot project provides crucial insights and knowledge that can be used in larger demonstration projects.
Considering that their world over is concerned with negative impacts of that arise from use of greenhouse gas emitting resources, the Department embarked of a campaign to promote use of clean technologies. In the context, renewable energy (RE) is being promoted as one way of achieving clean and sustainable energy provision. The Department conducts research that aims at contributing knowledge and solutions to the technological, social and economic challenges of utilization of Renewable Energy.
Some of the local challenges to the development of the RE sector are:
- 1. Technical know-how;
- 2. Policy and regulatory instruments;
- 3. Financing.