The Role of Household Consumers in Adopting Renewable Energy Technologies in Kenya

In transition to a low-carbon economy, the adoption of renewable energy (RE) technologies by energy investors, power utilities and energy consumers is critical. In developing countries like Kenya with a high rate of urbanization, this transition requires urban and rural residents’ proactive responses to using renewable energy sources.

In this regard, a better understanding of residents’ perceptions about renewable energy investment, RE sources availability, climate change, environmental conservation and other factors can lead to more efficient and sustainable implementation of renewable energy policies. This study investigates the role Kenya’s household energy consumers in urban and rural areas can play in adopting renewable energy technologies.

To achieve this, a questionnaire survey was administered among 250 household consumers in Nairobi County, Makueni County, and Uasin Gishu County. Our survey analysis shows that about 84% of the respondents were interested in adopting renewable energy for their entire energy consumption mostly because of solving frequent power outages and high energy cost from the grid system. This perception did not have any correlations with income levels or any other socio-economic factors we identified. Furthermore, about 72% of the respondents showed their interests in producing and selling renewable energy to the national or local grids if government subsidies were readily available.

Rural residents showed strong interests in adopting renewable energy technologies, especially solar PV solutions. However, the main impediment to their investment in renewable energy was the high cost of equipment (49%) and the intermittent nature of renewable energy (27%) resources. The latter reason was particularly prevalent for rural residents. About 96% of the rural respondents and 76% of the urban respondents preferred to have all their power supplies from renewable energy sources. In addition, about 84% (86% rural and 63% urban) expressed their wish to sell electricity they generate to the national grid. The main renewable energy technology that the respondents preferred to invest in was solar PV (85%).

Overall, this paper showed that Kenyan urban and rural residential consumers were highly interested in renewable energy. Kenya’s national policy to have its 100% electricity supply from renewables can be further expedited with better understanding about regional differences in household consumers’ needs. As the past studies showed the importance of understanding regional differences in terms of consumers’ perceptions about adopting renewable energy, this study can shed light on this topic through a case study in Kenya. This paper also demonstrated that some of our findings corresponded with past studies about Europe and Australia. Within a policy improvement context, the findings of this paper can better inform Kenya’s development partners like the US, EU, China, and Japan. These countries provide funding for major energy projects in Kenya.

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