This paper assesses the impact of solar home systems (SHS) on energy consumption and energy-related expenditures among Kenyan households. Based on a pipeline comparison approach of more than a thousand households, we find that access to a SHS leads to a net increase of 24 to 36 min in daily lighting use due to a 3 h increase in the use of LED lamps, accompanied by a reduction in the use of “dirty” lamps.
We also find a one litre reduction in the monthly use of kerosene for lighting. These changes in energy use along with a decline in the cost of charging mobile phones leads to a reduction in overall monthly expenditure of KSh 193 (about EUR 1.60). For the most popular SHS, these economic effects translate into a payback period of about six years. In addition to the economic benefits, we find small positive environmental effects, increased satisfaction from better quality lighting and an increase in time spent watching TV.
Setting the costs against the combined benefits of SHS suggests a positive payoff for this particular off-grid electricity option and a viable way forward in providing off-grid energy solutions with a wide range of functionalities in developing countries.