Showing posts with label Reviews Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviews Series. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2013

Resurrection of ESMAP Knolwedge Exchange Series 2005-2009

Between 2005 and 2009 I was the technical editor of an ESMAP Knowledge Exchange Series that involved the publication of four page summaries of current energy issues.   When I recently reviewed these notes after four years, I was struck by both the quality of these four page notes and the continuing relevance of the issues covered.  Also, most of the authors of these notes have 20 to 30 years of experience of working on energy in developing countries issues.   Because they are no longer very prominent on the ESMAP website, buried beneath more recent work, I have decided to resurrect them in this blog

I am sorry for the long delay between posts.  Both an illness and work somehow got in the way of working on this blog.  I have decided to revive it, but will not post as often as before.  But continue to check back as there will be more to come. 

Retroactively I have grouped these Knowledge Exchange Notes into four groups.  The first is on grid and offgrid rural electrification programs.  The second is on electricity generated mainly for the electricity grid.  The third group is biomass energy both for cooking and transport.  Finally, there are two notes on how rising energy prices impact the poor. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Energy Services for the Poor: A Review of World Bank Lending

By Doug Barnes

A couple of years ago I completed this review of Modernizing Energy Services for the Poor:  A World Bank Investment Review 2000-2008.  This was followed by extensive reviews and then revisions.  And this was followed by new revisions and fresh reviews and so on and so forth.  I am happy to announce that this report is finally out and comments are welcome, but no more reviews please. 

Source: World Bank Investments in Energy Access: 2000-08(Figures are Millions)

It may seem like a trivial exercise to classify energy access lending, but nothing could be further from the truth.  When you think about it almost all energy investments can be considered as promoting or being related to energy access.  Energy sector reform makes it possible to have a well functioning energy markets, and this is turn means the electricity and other forms of energy can reach the poor.  Likewise, rural electrification would not be possible without generation and transmission projects.  So where do you draw the line for ruling in investments as relating to energy access energy poverty or ruling them out. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Much Ado About Energy Poverty: A Look Behind the IEA Numbers

By Doug Barnes

The International Energy Association (IEA) has published a very nice special paper with the title Energy Poverty: How to Make Energy Access Universal.  This report makes a substantial contribution to the work on energy poverty and provides the updated figures on electricity access and the use of fuels for cooking.  The purpose of the report is to raise the issue of energy poverty to a higher level of international visibility.  This is quite a welcome tact by an energy agency that for many years has specialized in addressing issues of modern energy. 

I really like several things about this new report.  For one, the energy access and cooking fuel issues are well documented and nicely presented in tables and figures.  They also have made this publication free as supplement to the World Energy Outlook.  However, if you want the more country specific details you must purchase World Energy Outlook.  Finally, IEA has now added cooking fuels to the other types of energy they track to compliment their emphasis on electricity and other modern fuels.  This will raise cooking fuels to a higher level of public awareness and tracking their use is a very good idea for policy makers in the field of energy. 

The report also has some very high figures for the investment costs necessary to reach universal modern energy access by 2030.  At first glance, I thought these figures were too high, so I decided to “look behind” the figures.  I can tell you that that even for someone as seasoned as me this was not an easy task. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Improved Biomass Stoves For Bangladesh: Practice and Promise

Bangladesh has a better record in addressing rural energy issues than most countries. They have a very aggressive rural electrification program that is based on rural electric distribution cooperatives. There is an award winning program for promoting solar home systems in offgrid regions. Yet as we documented in our report on Bangladesh’s Rural Energy Realities the country has not been as successful in promoting ways to alleviate problems associated cooking with biomass energy on rudimentary stoves. This is in spite of the fact that bioass energy is so scarce that leaves and grass account for 15 percent of total rural energy use.

Bangladeshi Woman Cooking with Child:  Photo Prabir Mallik
Recently there has been a new report released on Improved Cookstoves and Better Health in Bangladesh.  For a preview there is a online version of the report at the bottom of this blog.  This report is provides a new twist to work on improved or advanced biomass stoves. Not only does the report review programs in Bangladesh, but it also draws lessons from successful international experiences and water and sanitation programs.  The picture to the right has graced the cover of several reports and it was originally taken by Prabir Mallik on one of the assignments that took place during the project.

Many of the existing programs in Bangladesh are promoting what we have called in previous blogs artisan stoves. There are not too many successful examples of artisan programs in the world. Most of the programs that flourished have had at the very minimum manufactured parts as was the case in China and Guatemala.  A promising new development is that within the last couple of years Grameen Shakti (see text below the break) has recently entered the picture in Bangladesh to promote improved stoves, and they are manufacturing some of the parts such as stovepipes and grills, but the firebox of its stove is still made from local materials such as clay or mud.

What are the recommendations of the new Bangladesh report? The main recommendation is to move towards higher quality stoves that are proven to be more energy efficient and lower household air pollution. Here are some key quotes from the executive summary.
Lessons from the international programs emphasize the need for a wide range of efficient stove designs tailored to user requirements as a prerequisite for program success. They should have proven efficiency, the ability to reduce indoor air pollution, and good durability and safety. Further, the viability of the program in the long term often depends on strong commercial approaches to promoting stoves. Targeted marketing has also been seen to be an effective strategy; stoves should be marketed to households facing fuelwood scarcity or high costs of purchasing wood, as they would be the most likely group to benefit from improved stoves, at least in the initial stages of a program.
The review of the status of improved stove programs in Bangladesh, along with the best practices from around the world, leads to several recommendations for consideration. One clear message is the need for a more unified program without diminishing the creativity of the various groups advocating improved stoves in Bangladesh. In fact, creativity and a wide variety of approaches should be encouraged. The government’s role is not necessarily to be the main actor, but rather to facilitate a process that promotes variety, improved durability, better safety, and greater efficiency of improved stoves.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Small Photovoltaic Lighting Systems: Niche or Not

The small technologies such as solar lanterns and small lights have always been a challenge to promote under development programs.
Solar Lantern in India
The wind up radio, which is now in the mainstream market for developed countries, was originally introduced as a possibility to improve communication in developing countries. Except for emergency situations such as Haiti, it is not a staple product for international donor programs because such products are now readily available in the marketplace, sold through large chains, retail stores and shops at retail prices.

The question is will small photovoltaic lighting systems have a similar fate? In part to answer this question there is a recent report that has been published by GTZ with the long title, What difference can a PicoPV system make? Early findings on small Photovoltaic systems - an emerging low cost energy technology for developing countries.  Here is the link. That must be a literal German translation of the title, but my preference given the content of the report would be something like The Role of Micro-Photovoltaic Lighting Systems in Developing Countries. But admittedly that is more boring.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Improved Stoves in Developing Countries by the Numbers

Nepal Improved Stove by Simon de Trey White WWF-UK
There are 3 billion people in developing countries that rely on solid fuels for almost all of their cooking. The question can be asked how many of these over 800 million households cook with an improved stove? The answer comes from a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Like any good mystery story you will have to skip to the end for the answer. All I will say is that the results may surprise you.

Before turning to the numbers, it is important to define an improved stove, and this is actually quite a contentious subject among specialists. The original programs were developed during the energy crisis of the 1980s and stoves were developed mainly to conserve biomass fuels. So energy conservation is the first definition. During the 1990s the literature on indoor air pollution was starting to link smoky stoves and health issues. At the time it was accepted that you need a chimney to remove smoke from the house. Thus energy conservation and smoke removal became a popular mandate. More recently in the last 10 years there is beginning to be evidence that the pollution from incomplete combustion of biomass energy might be the main health issue. Chimneys simply move the smoke to the outside only to drift back indoors. Now let’s add to this mix climate change and green house gases that must be taken into consideration. The demands on the humble biomass stove seem to grow and grow.

More below....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Facing Rural Energy Realities in Bangladesh

Adult Literacy Class, Bangladesh by Shehzad Noorani
People often forget that once Bangladesh was close to being the poorest country on the planet. Things certainly have changed in recent years. Bangladesh has always had policies for open trade that have helped the country become an exporter of manufactured goods, much of which has resulted from allowing investments by multinational firms.  Generally economic growth has been very positive in recent years.

The country also has a very ambitious and successful grid rural electrification program that was modeled after the USA rural electric cooperatives which is considered a “best practice.” Even for those rural households distant from the electricity grid, since 2002 there has been a very successful rural energy fund that is administered by a government bank. This fund along with prominent non-governmental organizations such as Grameen Shakti (part of Grameen Bank) and BRAC have been very active in promoting solar household systems for basic electric lighting and communications services for those out of reach from the grid electricity system. In recent years they also have been expanding to other rural energy technologies such as biogas and improved cookstoves.

Much more below....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Generation Wood Stove Evaluation in Dabaab Kenya: Review Series

I just read a very fascinating report called Evaluation of Manufactured Wood-Burning Stoves in Dabaab Refugee Camps Kenya by the Berkeley Air Monitoring Group. This report compares the performance of many of the stoves that were mentioned in a previous post on next generation stoves. As part of this blog, from time to time I will provide a brief review of interesting studies or conferences. This is not meant to be a peer review, but rather the remarks will be my own personal views. Others can express their opinions by commenting on these review postings.

This study reminded me that measuring the efficiency of improved stoves is not a simple task, but it is quite necessary. Often there are evaluations of single stove interventions, but comparative reviews are not as common. Testing methods actually have been a point of great contention and debate because some favor certain types of stoves over others. Such a lack of objective information or comparative testing results has been hampering improved stoves in developing countries for many years. Millions of dollars are given for stove programs and the monitoring and evaluation is often not very credible.
This study actually lays out its methods very clearly describing the testing environment in detail. There also were focus discussion groups with the cooks, a research technique that is highly recommended and often lacking in other work on stoves. The technical part of the study evaluates multiple manufactured stoves using a method called the controlled cooking test. Under this test the same amount of typical local food is cooked with measured amounts of fuelwood. The results are reported in kilograms of the fuelwood required for standardized cooking of one kilogram of food. Again, this is obviously a contrived environment, but it is a standard method that has been used for more than 25 years.

See more below.