Off-Grid Solar Distribution Models and Consumer Safeguards in Rural Kenya
Time & Location
About the Event
Speaker: Elise Harrington, University of Minnesota Moderator: Heidi Ries, University of Minnesota
About the talk: Pay-as-you-go off-grid solar in Kenya increases the short-term affordability of solar systems for rural households, with the potential to shrink the electricity access gap in regions with no or unreliable grid access. International and domestic programs aim to harmonize measures of technical quality across markets and provide accurate information to consumers about solar products, but information alone does not necessarily translate to actionable knowledge for off-grid solar services. Awareness of safeguards, such as a warranty, does not always translate in the use of consumer safeguards in practice. Consumer experiences with off-grid solar vary across distribution models, with differences in consumer knowledge about terms, conditions, and after-sales services. Using original survey data from Trans-Nzoia County, Kenya, Dr. Harrington examines the effect of frontline actors in off-grid solar distribution on knowledge of consumer safeguards. She describes the different distribution models and develop a baseline of consumer knowledge of off-grid solar based on product standards, truth-in-advertising requirements, and accountability. Finally, she shows variation in who consumers rely on for information about and help with off-grid solar products and services. This research illustrates pathways for strengthening consumer safeguards in off-grid solar in Kenya to support sustainable solar services.
About the Series
New Energy: Conversations with Early-Career Energy Researchers is a multi-university series featuring graduate, post-doctoral, and other early-career researchers sharing their discoveries and perspectives on energy-related topics. From policy to analysis to emerging research, this bi-weekly series will give anyone interested in energy the opportunity to learn from the rising stars in the field. Learn more about the series and the collaborating institutions here.
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