The impact of microhydroelectricity on household welfare indicators
The use of small-scale off-grid renewable energy for rural electrification is now seen as part of the sustainable energy solutions. The expectation from such small-scale investment is that it can meet the basic energy needs of a household and subsequently improve some aspects of household welfare. However, these stated benefits remain largely hypothetical because there are data and methodological challenges in existing literature attempting to isolate such impact. This paper uses field data from microhydro schemes in Kenya, and propensity score matching technique to demonstrate such an impact. We find that on average, households connected to microhydroelectricity consume 1.5 l less of kerosene per month compared to households without any such electricity connection. In addition, non-connected households spend 0.92 USD more for recharging their cell phone batteries per month in comparison to those who were using microhydroelectricity service. Finally, school children from households that are connected to microhydroelectricity were found to devote 43 min less on evening studies compared to those without electricity. The findings provide interesting insights to some of the claims made for or against use of off grid renewable energy for rural electrification.
KeywordsMicrohydro Rural electrification Impact Kenya
JEL classificationsC21 Q01 Q42
The authors are grateful to the Environment for Development (EfD) for funding the fieldwork for this study, and the enumerators and households in the three counties of the Republic of Kenya that participated in this study. We also acknowledge financial support in preparation of this article from Economic Modelling for Climate-Energy Policy (ECOCEP)
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