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Service Value Method: Research


The service value method gives us a structured way to move from discussing community needs and aspirations with end users, to making decisions about what services should be included in the energy system design. It's a method to integrate data about end user needs and priorities for future development into engineering design decision making.

It takes a service-oriented approach to energy system design - so access to energy is considered from the perspective of what services energy access could enable - what do end users actually want to be able to do? By considering what energy is required for, it's easier to understand the detail of the end user use-case - what value does the user envisage from this service, and so how can we enable service access to ensure we achieve that? It's also a lot easier to have a discussion with end users about their daily needs and future aspirations, rather than ask about power ratings and kWhs.

The SVM contains three steps:

  1. Data is gathered through a participatory meeting with a cross-section of the community

  2. It's analysed to make Service Maps which consider key design decision criteria that play into engineering design decision-making

  3. Service Maps enable the selection of services for a conceptual system design.

Read more about each step below and explore the resources available to integrate service-oriented, participatory design into energy access projects.

Engaging with end users in the context of energy access? Check out ethics and best practice pointers below:



Conducted in small groups with end users, the Service Value Test encourages participants to put forward their future aspiriations - what services would improve their lives? Quantitative and qualitative data capture preferences and aspirations, as well as giving insight into current and aspirational practices and norms.


Turn data gathered in SVTs into Service Maps - showing the popularity of each service and it's position on the scale of decision criteria which are important for the design of the energy system. Illuminate any trade-offs between different design decision criteria and end-user aspirations.

Find out more about choosing decision criteria for a project, how to assess the services against them, and take advantage of the online Service Map tool to upload your csv file to generate the map:

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Integration into the engineering design process - use the Service Maps to help guide which services to implement in the energy system. Selection of services leads to to selection of appliances or products to enable access to those services, which in turn leads to specification of the energy and power requirements to support those products, and finally to a technical design.

Smart Villages Research Group uses the SVM as part of their strategy to foster participation of end users in energy project - check out some of the projects we've used it in here:

Questions, thoughts, comments? Get in touch, and if you've used or adapted the SVM, please let me know how it went!

For a deeper-dive into the SVM and to read the original research, see Clements, A., Wheeler, S., Mohr, A., & McCulloch, M. (2019). The Service Value Method for Design of Energy Access Systems in the Global South. Proceedings of the IEEE, 107(9), 1941–1966.

If you can't get access to that link, a preprint version is available here.

Service Value Method: Research

To watch a video about how Smart Villages Research Group integrates the SVM into their approach to foster community participation in the design of energy projects, click the slide below.

Service Value Method: Image
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