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Modelling of Success of Rural Electrification through Solar Home Systems in Developing Countries

Hans Holtorf (PPRE Staff)
PhD at Murdoch University Perth, Australia

I’m done! In 2009 I introduced myself to the members of the Energy Studies research group at the School of Engineering and Energy, Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. We negotiated possible PhD thesis topics and I was relieved when it was decided that success of Solar Home Systems is an interesting topic - a Hans Holtorf near to heart topic since the mid 1990ies. It took me a year to get IELTS and to collect all necessary documents (syllabus of mechanical engineering studies in the early 1980ies – thanks to the secretaries at Fachhochschule München for finding it somewhere on the shelves!). I officially got started on February 22nd 2010.

Working on a PhD part time is quite a challenge especially when you have plenty of affections for your PPRE/EUREC students at Uni Oldenburg. Far too often they had priority over the PhD project. At last, in autumn 2012 and spring 2013 I did the decisive interviews and field studies in Uganda and South Africa where I stayed in rural homes electrified by Solar Home Systems. What an adventure to enjoy top level hospitality given by my hosts, to see a different world, to collect water from the hand pump well and to get on with less than 100Wh/d of electricity where we consume 3000Wh/d at home. Plenty of the thoughts deriving from the academic ivory tower in Oldenburg needed adjustment or even rejection. After the evaluation of the results at Murdoch University and at home, a long struggle with publications and their reviewers followed in 2015. This period was only survived with the help of the motivating words of my dear wife.

I developed a model to evaluate the success of the implementation of Solar Home Systems and I described the pros and cons of this model as well as the challenges of applying the model in the field. The project took me 4500 working hours where a normal working year makes up for 1700 working hours.

On August 17th 2016 I received the conferral letter saying that now I am titled Dr Hans Holtorf. I have celebrated this day with my PPRE colleagues and with many PPRE & EUREC students of multiple batches. At this point I would like to thank all those on the PPRE list who gave input to the project and who have supported me with information and infrastructure on site in Uganda and in South Africa.

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