Technical and financial analysis of multi-functional platforms in Mali

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The Multi-Functional Platform (MFP) is a plant, comprising a prime mover, usually a diesel engine, to which is coupled a variety of machines (load), that meet the energy service needs of rural communities. Currently the machines include grinding mills, vegetable oil presses, battery chargers, electric water pump, etc. The MFP has been used mainly in Mali and also in four other Sub-Saharan countries as a tool to meet the rural poverty challenge and promote environmental sustainability. Few of the engines run on Jatropha instead of diesel, a vegetable oil which is renewable and environmentally friendly. This thesis undertakes a technical and financial analysis of Multi-Functional Platforms in Mali. A literature review was conducted to develop an analytical framework for the study before going on the field to collect data. Data collection was done at the coordination and advisory units as well as MFP installations in Mali. Data processing and analysis was carried out to determine technical and financial performance indicators of MFP such as the Mean Fuel Consumption (MFC), the Availability Factor (AF), the Load Factor (LF), the Fuel Cost Ratio (FCR), the Profit Ratio (PR) and the Simple Payback Period (SPP) for a sample of five MFP installations in Mali. The technical analysis for the five selected MFP installations shows that the MFP Availability Factor ranges between 64 and 99%. In addition the Mean Fuel Consumption of the engines varies from 0.23 to 4.08 litres per hour. The Load Factor ranges from a maximum of 62% to a minimum of 28 %. The financial analysis for the same MFPs reveals that the Fuel Cost Ratio, which is the fuel cost divided by the operating cost for a given period, varies between 43 and 53% on annual basis. The profit is the difference between MFP operating income and expenditure. Three MFPs have positive net profit and two have negative net profit. The Profit Ratio (PR) for the three MFPs ranges between 14 and 16% and the Simple Payback Period for these MFPs varies from 87.74 to 110.41 years. The Profit Ratio for the other two MFPs varies between -18 to -2 %. Thus, no payback period has been computed for this category of MFPs. The financial results indicate low revenues, low and negative Profit Ratio with very long Payback Periods compared to the life time of modern power plant which is 30 years. This shows that currently, the MFPs are not commercially sustainable in Malian Villages. The high Availability Factors show that the MFP maintenance is well done. The low load factors reflect low levels of economic activity. In addition low loading results in low thermal efficiency and high fuel consumption of the engine; thereby, high Fuel Cost Ratio. One can conclude that MEP is not optimally adapted to areas where they are installed. Data from only 5 MFPs were used for the present analysis. The data were also inadequate for determination of some performance indicators such as capacity factor; thus limiting the scope of the analysis and conclusions. It is recommended that future work should focus on measurement of power and use duration for each appliance. It is also recommended that studies be conducted with the aim to improve the load factor and thereby the financial results. Jatropha oil is an alternative fuel to diesel and it is indigenous. The use of Jatropha could therefore improve the financial indicators. It is therefore recommended that its development and use in MFP should be encouraged.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, 2003