Abstract

Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations is to achieve universal access to clean, modern and affordable electricity by 2030. However, 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) currently do not have access to electricity. As a result of this energy inequality, countries in SSA need to plan electricity systems that provide access in an equitable manner. The research question we explore in this paper is how integrating elicited preferences for equality into an electricity system planning model affects investment decisions regarding technology deployment. Our novel contribution is proposing a framework in the form of a discrete choice experiment and a statistical estimation model to determine decision makers’ preferences for equality. In our study, we find that higher preferences for equality result in an increased deployment of solar diesel mini-grids. These hybrid mini-grids, in turn, drive the carbon emissions intensity of the electricity system fourfold. As such, there is a need for stakeholders in Africa’s energy sector to consider the potential divergence between a carbon-minimizing electrification strategy and equitable electrification.

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