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Improving Electricity Access and Reliability using Residential Solar Systems with Battery Storage Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa

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posted on 18.10.2019, 20:37 by Chukwudi UdeaniChukwudi Udeani
Poor access and unreliable grid service are amongst the significant challenges facing households in sub-Saharan Africa. In response, these households rely on fossil fuel-based technologies to meet their household needs. Families without grid access rely on kerosene lamps predominantly
to meet lighting needs, while grid-connected homes use fossil fuel backup generators. Studies of fossil fuel solutions like kerosene lamps and backup generators show that these technologies impose negative socio-economic impacts on both households and society. As a result, researchers and policymakers have been motivated to explore cleaner and more sustainable technologies like residential solar electric with battery storage systems. This thesis through a
quantitative investigation of residential solar systems to analyzes the technical, economic, and environmental merits of residential solar systems in their applicability to address key electricity challenges facing sub-Saharan households.
For households in rural areas without access in Kenya, solar home systems provide a cost effective alternative to kerosene lamps as a better lighting alternative, and even better for household economics when the additional services are considered like phone charging. I found was price elasticity of demand to be the key determinant of economic attractiveness for lighting services, which attempts to quantify the value households place on improved lighting
service. For grid connected households, findings suggest that residential solar with battery storage electric systems can provide improved household electricity reliability while reducing reliance on backup generators. However, these systems increase grid demand. The main driver of the
economic attractiveness of these systems are the household’s reliability needs which is reflected
in how many hours the household’s backup generators is available for dispatch in the event of a grid outage as well as discount rate. The study finds that grid availability is also a key determinant of the economic attractiveness of these residential systems, because the quality of grid service in terms of how many hours the grid provides power to the household determines the overall level of backup generator reliance.




Degree Type



Engineering and Public Policy

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Paulina Jaramillo

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