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From technical innovations towards social practices and socio-technical transition? : Re-thinking the transition to decentralised solar PV electrification in Africa

Title data

Boamah, Festus ; Rothfuß, Eberhard:
From technical innovations towards social practices and socio-technical transition? : Re-thinking the transition to decentralised solar PV electrification in Africa.
In: Energy Research & Social Science. Vol. 42 (February 2018) . - pp. 1-10.
ISSN 2214-6296
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2018.02.019

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

Technical innovations feature prominently in the current ‘energy transition’ debate in Africa but societal adaptation issues seldom receive a thorough airing. The mediating role of ‘societal conditionings’ in the adaptation to new energy technologies and the outcomes of such energy-society interrelations can offer some important insights. A study in Ghana shows a recent enthusiasm for Solar Home Systems (SHS) as power back-ups in residential facilities due to high/convoluted tariffs, perceived corruption and inefficiencies in the state-driven/centralised provision of electricity. A new class of “energy-elites” whose livelihoods and lifestyles require uninterrupted access to electricity sought to gain some autonomy in electricity provision and consumption by investing in power storage devices (e.g. power inverters and batteries) or fuel-powered Generator-Sets for use during unexpected frequent power outages. These infrastructures supported self-organised electrification initiatives only on ad hoc basis but SHS provided avenues to sustain that societal quest for autonomy. Achieving this autonomy, nonetheless, required SHS users to restrict their practices to energy services easily enabled by SHS alone, or adjust social practices according to the extent to which they intended to depend on the state-driven provision of electricity. The vision of energy autonomy and resultant societal practices are indeed realised through the use of SHS technology; the overarching driving force is the dynamics of energy-society interrelations. We therefore hypothesize that the adaptation to decentralised solar PV systems in Africa cannot be reduced solely to technical innovations nor even financial considerations but is instead dependent on how these factors intersect with social practices, the quality of the state’s electricity services, etc. to shape societal energy visions.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Solar home systems; Socio-technical transitions; Social practices; Energy transition; Energy visions; Ghana
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Social and Population Geography
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Social and Population Geography > Chair Social and Population Geography - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Eberhard Rothfuß
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 900 History and geography
900 History and geography > 910 Geography, travel
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2018 07:05
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2018 07:05
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/42608