Evaluating impacts of distributed solar home systems in rural communities: Lessons learnt from Ghana Energy Development and Access Project in the Upper West Region of Ghana
This article made a modest impact assessment of isolated solar home systems (SHSs) installed via recently ended five-year flagship Ghana Energy Development and Access Project (GEDAP) on the livelihoods of rural households in the Upper West Region. A total of 250 solar users in both private households and rural clinics in 65 rural communities across 6 districts were interviewed. Lessons learned in the aspects of energy services provision, financial model, local energy preference and practical setbacks facing installed SHSs through GEDAP are discussed. For instance, in terms of energy preference, majority of rural solar users (50%) preferred grid-tied electricity, although they were not connected to the grid yet as compared to 35% who preferred both grid-tied and off-grid forms of electrification while 15% preferred off-grid solar technology. This then suggests that although off-grid SHSs are a viable alternative energy generation option, they may not necessarily be a panacea for the energy poverty situation in rural Ghana due to setbacks. For off-grid solar electrification to achieve parity with conventional energy sources, a combination of increased system capacity, investment and political will is needed to make SHSs more competitive and deliver sustained quality energy services for deprived rural communities where such place-based energy services are needed most for sustainable rural development.