Renewable energy technologies in Kenya: a place in the sun for the private sector?: the framework for a market study of renewable energy technologies for small-scale irrigation in Kenya
Dewees, Peter A.
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The high expectations development planners have had for the widespread use of renewable energy technologies in developing countries have seldom been met. The failure of these technologies to provide their expected developmental benefits has been partly the result of an eagerness to demonstrate technologies that had not been adequately field -tested as well as the result of a certain short-sightedness about what these technologies could actually do. In the situations where these technologies have been employed with positive results, success has depended on the ability of the technologies to provide energy to meet individual end-uses, rather than on the willingness of the consumer to adapt end-uses so they would be capable of meeting the capacities of sometimes sophisticated technologies. In forms of energy substitution, the primary advantage of these technologies is that they can meet specific end-use energy demands, and not that they can have any substantial impact on a country's overall energy demand mix. Entrepreneurs in Kenya have successfully capitalized on the ability of small scale, renewable energy technologies to meet specific end-use needs — for instance, the need for domestic and industrial hot water, the need for irrigation, and the need for alternative cooking technologies. Individual investment decisions favor renewable energy technologies when they can be guaranteed to provide for highly-valued end-uses, especially when conventional energy supplies or equivalently scaled conventional energy conversion and utilization technologies ore unreliable, unavailable, or are technically inappropriate. Public policy options that would have an effect on the extent to which these technologies are used should be determined on the basis of their potential developmental impacts, rather than on their energy substitution potential in the aggregate. This paper suggests a possible framework for a study of the market for renewable energy technologies in Kenya that could provide for a highly-valued end-use in a developmentally important sector, i .e. the markets for alternative energy technologies for small-scale irrigation.