Lee, Kenneth, Miguel, Edward and Wolfram, Catherine “Appliance Ownership and Aspirations among Electric Grid and Home Solar Households in Rural Kenya” (Revised January 2016) (Revised version published in the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 106(5): 89-94, May 2016) | WP-266R | Blog Post

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are active debates about whether increases in energy access should be driven by investments in electric grid infrastructure or small-scale “home solar” systems (e.g., solar lanterns and solar home systems). We summarize the results of a household electrical appliance survey and describe how households in rural Kenya differ in terms of appliance ownership and aspirations. Our data suggest that home solar is not a substitute for grid power. Furthermore, the environmental advantages of home solar are likely to be relatively small in countries like Kenya, where grid power is primarily derived from non-fossil fuel sources.