Kenneth Lee, Edward Miguel and Catherine Wolfram “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.