Abstract

Off-grid energy systems are facilitating new forms of energy production and consumption. Independent from national grids, they can be installed in more ad-hoc ways and have the potential to generate profit not only by selling energy but also by collecting data about their users and environment. As such, they present new challenges and opportunities for the design of services and interactive systems, which require new understanding of what is relevant to the diversity of people who rely on these systems for power. In this paper, we report on an interview and probe-based study carried out in a rural area in Kenya. The study looks at personal energy narratives as well as the way people value appliances and energy-related services. It reveals how values influence perception of energy needs, the blurry boundaries between business and home contexts, and how widespread narratives of profit creation based on appliances may conflict with communal interests and aspirations of energy users.

Keywords:

electric mini-grid; rural electrification; business development; understanding people

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 25th, 12:00 AM

Understanding Situated Energy Values in Rural Kenya

Off-grid energy systems are facilitating new forms of energy production and consumption. Independent from national grids, they can be installed in more ad-hoc ways and have the potential to generate profit not only by selling energy but also by collecting data about their users and environment. As such, they present new challenges and opportunities for the design of services and interactive systems, which require new understanding of what is relevant to the diversity of people who rely on these systems for power. In this paper, we report on an interview and probe-based study carried out in a rural area in Kenya. The study looks at personal energy narratives as well as the way people value appliances and energy-related services. It reveals how values influence perception of energy needs, the blurry boundaries between business and home contexts, and how widespread narratives of profit creation based on appliances may conflict with communal interests and aspirations of energy users.

 

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