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Publication Detail
Scaling up off-grid solar energy access through improved understanding of customers’ needs, aspirations and energy use of decentralised (SMART) Solar Home Systems – a case study of BBOXX customers in Rwanda.
Abstract
In the fast-growing market of decentralised energy systems, stand-alone PV Solar Home Systems (SHSs) are among modern solutions which have quickly grown in numbers across the unelectrified parts of the world, substituting often polluting, expensive and inefficient sources like candles, kerosene or battery-powered torches used for lighting homes and businesses. Little research has been done to understand behavioural aspects of energy use among SHSs adopters. This case study aims to address this gap in the body of knowledge regarding energy use behaviour, needs and aspirations, focusing on SHSs users in Rwanda through both qualitative and quantitative research methods. It applies the Three-Dimensional Energy Profile framework to explore the needs, aspirations and energy use at a household level, with a recognition of differences among genders, different poverty groups and various system packages consisting of a diverse range of appliances. Time factor is considered to better understand whether and how needs and energy consumption change over time, demonstrating that energy use is dynamic and power consumption does not increase in a linear manner. Further findings reveal a substantial decrease in the use of candles, kerosene and batteries for lighting, with continued fuel stacking practices post-SHS adoption. Business applications are basic, as are the needs in terms of the most-desired appliances, which cover lighting, phone charging, access to information and entertainment, and other daily use appliances, such as shavers and irons. Aspirational level of access to energy services has the potential to be met by SHSs with increased availability and affordability of super energy efficient appliances, and appropriate business models. This can enhance the already significant impact on HHs, which has a well-defined gender dimension, with women benefiting the most. Policy and regulatory frameworks remain an important factor in scaling up off-grid energy access as key market enablers, channels of awareness-raising and trust-building among off-grid communities.
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