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Calabashes for kilowatt-hours: Rural energy and market failure

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  • Howells, Mark I.
  • Jonsson, Sandra
  • Käck, Emilia
  • Lloyd, Philip
  • Bennett, Kevin
  • Leiman, Tony
  • Conradie, Beatrice

Abstract

This paper describes how management and information failures can retard transitions from the traditional use of biomass fuel by low income rural consumers and micro-producers. In general, societies move away from traditional biomass use as economic development takes place. If one accepts the doctrine of revealed preference (built on the initial work of Samuelson, 1938), then these trends imply that such transitions provide net gains in utility. This paper shows how various "failures" entrench existing fuel use patterns--hindering the transition to new fuel use patterns. In order to qualitatively discuss how these transitions may take place, an indicative neo-classical description of consumer and producer behavior is used. Three types fuel-transition "driver" are identified. The effect of information and management failures on these drivers, and thus the energy transition, is discussed. Reference is made to a specific case study in which a partial transition from biomass occurred in response to an intervention to address an environmental management failure (the deforesting of a carbon sink.) It is concluded that interventions to encourage transitions to cleaner sustainable fuel use may need to recognize and address management and information failures in a systematic manner.

Suggested Citation

  • Howells, Mark I. & Jonsson, Sandra & Käck, Emilia & Lloyd, Philip & Bennett, Kevin & Leiman, Tony & Conradie, Beatrice, 2010. "Calabashes for kilowatt-hours: Rural energy and market failure," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2729-2738, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:6:p:2729-2738
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Morgan Bazilian & Patrick Nussbaumer & Giorgio Gualberti & Erik Haites & Michael Levi & Judy Siegel & Daniel M. Kammen & Joergen Fenhann, 2011. "Informing the Financing of Universal Energy Access: An Assessment of Current Flows," Working Papers 2011.56, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Schillebeeckx, Simon J.D. & Parikh, Priti & Bansal, Rahul & George, Gerard, 2012. "An integrated framework for rural electrification: Adopting a user-centric approach to business model development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 687-697.
    3. Sehjpal, Ritika & Ramji, Aditya & Soni, Anmol & Kumar, Atul, 2014. "Going beyond incomes: Dimensions of cooking energy transitions in rural India," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 470-477.
    4. Nerini, Francesco Fuso & Andreoni, Antonio & Bauner, David & Howells, Mark, 2016. "Powering production. The case of the sisal fibre production in the Tanga region, Tanzania," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 544-556.
    5. Morgan Bazilian & Patrick Nussbaumer & Hans-Holger Rogner & Abeeku Brew-Hammond & Vivien Foster & Shonali Pachauri & Eric Williams & Mark Howells & Philippe Niyongabo & Lawrence Musaba & Brian Ó Galla, 2011. "Energy Access Scenarios to 2030 for the Power Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 2011.68, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Shrimali, Gireesh & Slaski, Xander & Thurber, Mark C. & Zerriffi, Hisham, 2011. "Improved stoves in India: A study of sustainable business models," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7543-7556.

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