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Renewables in the energy transition: Evidence on solar home systems and lighting fuel choice in Kenya


  • Lay, Jann
  • Ondraczek, Janosch
  • Stöver, Jana


We study the determinants of households' choices of lighting fuels in Kenya including the option of using solar home systems (SHS). Our goal is to add new evidence on the factors that influence the introduction and adoption of decentralized and less carbon-intensive energy sources in developing countries, and, more generally, to the empirical debate on the energy ladder. We capitalize on a unique representative survey on energy use and sources from Kenya, one of the few relatively well-established SHS markets in the world. Our results reveal some very interesting patterns of the fuel transition in the context of lighting fuel choices. While we find clear evidence for a cross-sectional energy ladder, the income threshold for modern fuel use - including solar energy use - to move beyond traditional and transitional fuels is very high. Income and education turn out to be key determinants of SHS adoption, but we also find a very pronounced effect of SHS clustering, i.e. the prevalence of SHS systems in the proximity of a potential user increases the likelihood of adoption. In addition, we do not find a negative correlation between grid access and SHS use.

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  • Lay, Jann & Ondraczek, Janosch & Stöver, Jana, 2012. "Renewables in the energy transition: Evidence on solar home systems and lighting fuel choice in Kenya," HWWI Research Papers 121, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:121

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Samad, Hussain A. & Khandk, Shahidur R. & Asaduzzaman, M. & Yunus, Mohammad, 2013. "The benefits of solar home systems :an analysis from Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6724, The World Bank.
    2. Prinsloo, Gerro & Mammoli, Andrea & Dobson, Robert, 2016. "Discrete cogeneration optimization with storage capacity decision support for dynamic hybrid solar combined heat and power systems in isolated rural villages," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 116(P1), pages 1051-1064.
    3. repec:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:71-81 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Hohenleitner, Ingrid & Hillmann, Katja, 2012. "Impact of Benefit Sanctions on Unemployment Outflow - Evidence from German Survey Data," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 66055, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Jean Hugues Nlom & Aziz A. Karimov, 2015. "Modeling Fuel Choice among Households in Northern Cameroon," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(8), pages 1-11, July.
    6. Rasmus Lema & Björn Johnson & Allan Dahl Andersen & Bengt-Åke Lundvall & Ankur Chaudhary (ed.), 2014. "Low-Carbon Innovation and Development," Globelics Thematic Reviews, Globelics - Global Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems, Aalborg University, Department of Business and Management, number low-carbon, October.
    7. Hansen, Ulrich Elmer & Pedersen, Mathilde Brix & Nygaard, Ivan, 2015. "Review of solar PV policies, interventions and diffusion in East Africa," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 236-248.
    8. repec:eee:enepol:v:109:y:2017:i:c:p:666-675 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ondraczek, Janosch, 2014. "Are we there yet? Improving solar PV economics and power planning in developing countries: The case of Kenya," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 604-615.
    10. repec:ove:journl:aid:11341 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Stephan Klasen & Tukae Mbegalo, 2016. "The Impact of Livestock Ownership on Solar Home System Adoption in the Northern and Western Regions of Rural Tanzania," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 218, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    12. Julian S. Leppin & Stefan Reitz, 2016. "The Role of a Changing Market Environment for Credit Default Swap Pricing," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(3), pages 209-223, July.
    13. Bräuninger, Michael, 2014. "Tax sovereignty and feasibility of international regulations for tobacco tax policies," HWWI Research Papers 152, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    14. repec:eee:enepol:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:425-436 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Karakaya, Emrah & Sriwannawit, Pranpreya, 2015. "Barriers to the adoption of photovoltaic systems: The state of the art," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 60-66.
    16. Sen Guo & Huiru Zhao & Chunjie Li & Haoran Zhao & Bingkang Li, 2016. "Significant Factors Influencing Rural Residents’ Well-Being with Regard to Electricity Consumption: An Empirical Analysis in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-13, November.
    17. Christophe Muller & Huijie Yan, 2016. "Household Fuel Use in Developing Countries: Review of Theory and Evidence," Working Papers halshs-01290714, HAL.
    18. Mandelli, Stefano & Barbieri, Jacopo & Mereu, Riccardo & Colombo, Emanuela, 2016. "Off-grid systems for rural electrification in developing countries: Definitions, classification and a comprehensive literature review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1621-1646.
    19. Ondraczek, Janosch, 2013. "The sun rises in the east (of Africa): A comparison of the development and status of solar energy markets in Kenya and Tanzania," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 407-417.
    20. Vöpel, Henning, 2013. "A Zidane clustering theorem: Why top players tend to play in one team and how the competitive balance can be restored," HWWI Research Papers 141, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

    More about this item


    renewable energy; household fuel choice; lighting fuel choice; solar power use; solar home systems; Kenya; energy ladder; KIHBS;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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