What motivates people in remote communities to decide to buy and use a particular energy source?
More than 73 million households in remote areas of the world get electricity not from a conventional power grid but rather from sources such as solar lanterns, solar home systems (SHSs) that can power several devices, and local solar-based microgrids. Such off-grid devices and systems provide life-changing services to people who are off centralized electricity grids, and they help spread the use of renewable energy. As a result, international aid organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are working hard to encourage their adoption.
To expedite the spread of solar technologies, such organizations need to understand the barriers and incentives for households to adopt them. Scholars have assumed that as household income increases, people will adopt newer, “higher-order” technologies and abandon older, “lower-order ones,” such as those that burn fossil fuels. But there’s clear evidence that in remote places people don’t easily abandon the energy sources they have — including their kerosene lanterns.
What motivates people in remote communities to decide to buy and use a particular energy source? What encourages them to choose a certain solar lantern? And why do they then hang onto some of their older devices after acquiring new sources such as a microgrid or even access to the state-run electric grid?