Many households in Cambodia are not yet connected to the national electricity grid and instead use car batteries charged at diesel-powered charging stations to satisfy their energy needs. The costs can be three or four times more than what they would pay for grid electricity – up to $1 per Kwh – which is a major drain on limited family incomes.
Affordable small solar home systems represent an excellent opportunity to bring modern energy services to those who are currently lacking them. While Cambodian households are fortunate to be able to choose solar products from a wide range of offers from a large number of companies, too much choice can be confusing, and some products may not be as good as others.
As part of the AFD/EU-funded Solar Microfinance Program, SNV has developed the very first quality assurance framework for solar companies and their products in Cambodia. The newly created ‘Good Solar™’ quality label will help rural Cambodian consumers identify good quality products from companies that provide reliable customer services.
Solar companies accredited by the ‘Good Solar Initiative’ commit to offering products and customer care services to a high quality standard defined by the initiative, and undergo regular quality inspection to confirm their compliance. All products are reviewed by the initiative’s technical experts to ensure they provide a high level of energy output while at the same time ensuring a long lifetime of the product.
A unique feature of the newly created solar quality standards, which have been specifically designed for Cambodia, is that they also define a minimum level of customer services solar companies must provide. This is an additional measure to ensure that rural consumers always have a local technician nearby to help out with troubleshooting and maintenance of their solar products, and have access to spare parts and warranty services.
Such a quality assurance framework is an important feature in many solar market development programs worldwide, and the Good Solar™ Initiative hopes that this way, it will build and inspire trust and confidence among Cambodian consumers in solar technology; and to offer high quality solar suppliers an opportunity to visibly stand out from the competition.
The Good Solar Initiative opened for applications for accreditation for the first time in April 2015, and since, 4 local solar companies and 11 solar products passed an intensive review and due diligence process, have been allowed to carry the initiative’s quality seal. Meanwhile, other companies have become interested in committing to Cambodia’s first voluntary quality standards for the local solar industry, and have been advised by SNV’s solar engineers and business advisors on how to increase quality of their products and customer services.
In the coming months, the initiative will launch an extensive education and awareness raising campaign to inform rural Cambodian communities about the benefits of buying quality-assured solar products.
For more information, please visit the website of the Good Solar Initiative.