Solar home systems and solar lanterns in rural areas of the Global South: What impact?
Assessing the extent of evidence available relating to the impact of solar energy for households (HHs) in developing countries, surveys are reviewed focusing on the impact of pico‐photovoltaic (e.g., solar lanterns) or solar home systems (SHS) on rural HHs and directly related economic activities of their occupiers. Ninety‐eight documents have been analyzed. Areas of enquiry have included the impact of small individual solar photovoltaic systems on different facets of the life of HHs' occupiers: their education, health, finance, livelihoods, and social relations. Research on the impact of small solar systems contradicts the commonly accepted idea that small solar systems—due to their limited capacity—cannot have an impact in terms of development. In actual fact, these systems seem to have a significant impact in terms of quality of life for their users and in helping them to keep connected to the global world by supplying power to mobile phones and television sets. Nevertheless, it is not yet possible to draw definitive conclusions on their quantitative impact in specific areas, except for: (a) evidence of increase of quality lighting, (b) strong evidence of cost savings when kerosene lamps are replaced by solar lighting, and (c) evidence on the impact of solar lighting on the time of studying of children and quality of education. Finally, indications are given on the kind of research which could be conducted to fill current gaps in demonstrating evidence of the impact of small individual solar systems. This article is categorized under: Photovoltaics > Climate and Environment Energy and Climate > Economics and Policy