Developing countries face an overall situation of limited energy resources and applications, particularly in rural areas, and there is an urgent need to address this situation. Limited energy resources and applications pose a serious constraint and barrier to social and economic development, and present significant challenges and opportunities for renewable energy. Renewable energy sources include biomass, solar energy, wind and hydropower. Many of these energy sources have been used for millennia — the sun and wind in drying and other direct or ‘passive’ applications, while biomass has been the ‘active’ staple energy source since our ancestors discovered fire. Moreover, water and wind power have been used as energy sources since the earliest driven machinery. Most recently, the use of solar power in photovoltaic systems has become synonymous with renewable energy at the smaller household level.
A variety of smaller-scale solar and renewable energy technology applications were developed and promoted in the 1970s and 1980s. These include solar photovoltaic systems for lighting, battery charging, refrigeration, communications and water pumping. Direct or ‘passive’ solar applications included water heating, crop drying and solar architecture. Wind, used over generations for water pumping and power, was applied to electricity generation. Hydropower was also developed at micro- and mini-hydro level. Improved cooking stoves and ovens enhanced the efficiency and use of biomass resources. More recent technological applications include hybrid systems, energy cogeneration, small-scale distribution systems and solar desalination.
The toolkit consists of two companion volumes — Solar Photovoltaic Solar Systems: Technical Training Manual and Solar Photovoltaic Project Development. The technical manual, in landscape format, has greater detail, text and graphics. Solar Photovoltaic Project Development has no graphics and smaller font text, and is intended more as a text for teachers both to support the technical training manual — making it easy to relate student and teacher materials, and to discuss wider issues relating to project development for solar photovoltaic systems.
The overall objective of this toolkit is to provide comprehensive training material on the innovation, application, installation, operation, monitoring and evaluation, management maintenance and rehabilitation of PV systems as well as providing useful information for advocacy, awareness raising, innovation, policy and planning.