Rapid Product Assessment: Solar Milling Test Method

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Grains are the most frequently produced and consumed food crop in the Global South, and milling is critical to processing these grains for sale and consumption. However, milling is labour-intensive, especially for women in rural households who are typically tasked with the chore.

Presently, large-scale diesel mills dominate the off-grid market. In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the low rate of electrification and lack of reliable electricity access has led to the continued widespread use of diesel engines for milling. The solar-powered mill is a promising technology solution that helps rural farmers and households reduce drudgery and increase farm productivity while mitigating diesel mills’ health and environmental impacts.

Currently, there are no universally accepted test methods to measure and evaluate milling performance consistently. As a first step to help the off-grid sector standardise solar mill performance measurements, this Rapid Product Assessment Solar Milling Test Method evaluates solar-powered milling equipment intended for deployment in stand-alone applications. Kijani Testing developed the testing protocol with CLASP in support of VeraSol, a quality assurance program for off-grid solar solutions.

This document defines methods to evaluate the quality, performance, functionality and user safety of small-scale (​​​​​​​​less than 2.2 kilowatts of power input required and with throughputs of less than 200 kilograms per hour) solar-powered milling equipment used mainly for agricultural processing to break grains into smaller particles.

The test method consists of the following major components:

  • Overall product quality inspection, both internal and external, as well as an evaluation of the user manual and manufacturer-provided information
  • General assessment of safety for users
  • Evaluation of product performance, including energy performance and service delivery