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Improved stoves in India: A study of sustainable business models

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  • Shrimali, Gireesh
  • Slaski, Xander
  • Thurber, Mark C.
  • Zerriffi, Hisham

Abstract

Burning of biomass for cooking is associated with health problems and climate change impacts. Many previous efforts to disseminate improved stoves – primarily by governments and NGOs – have not been successful. Based on interviews with 12 organizations selling improved biomass stoves, we assess the results to date and future prospects of commercial stove operations in India. Specifically, we consider how the ability of these businesses to achieve scale and become self-sustaining has been influenced by six elements of their respective business models: design, customers targeted, financing, marketing, channel strategy, and organizational characteristics. The two companies with the most stoves in the field shared in common generous enterprise financing, a sophisticated approach to developing a sales channel, and many person-years of management experience in marketing and operations. And yet the financial sustainability of improved stove sales to households remains far from assured. The only company in our sample with demonstrated profitability is a family-owned business selling to commercial rather than household customers. The stove sales leader is itself now turning to the commercial segment to maintain flagging cash flow, casting doubt on the likelihood of large positive impacts on health from sales to households in the near term.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:12:p:7543-7556
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.07.031
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Vanschoenwinkel, Janka & Lizin, Sebastien & Swinnen, Gilbert & Azadi, Hossein & Van Passel, Steven, 2014. "Solar cooking in Senegalese villages: An application of best–worst scaling," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 447-458.
    2. Niklas Vahlne & Erik O. Ahlgren, 2014. "Energy Efficiency at the Base of the Pyramid: A System-Based Market Model for Improved Cooking Stove Adoption," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(12), pages 1-21, November.
    3. Jesús Rodríguez-Molina & Margarita Martínez-Núñez & José-Fernán Martínez & Waldo Pérez-Aguiar, 2014. "Business Models in the Smart Grid: Challenges, Opportunities and Proposals for Prosumer Profitability," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(9), pages 1-30, September.
    4. Troncoso, Karin & Armendáriz, Cynthia & Alatorre, Silvia, 2013. "Improved cook stove adoption and impact assessment: A proposed methodology," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 637-645.
    5. Rehman, I.H. & Kar, Abhishek & Banerjee, Manjushree & Kumar, Preeth & Shardul, Martand & Mohanty, Jeevan & Hossain, Ijaz, 2012. "Understanding the political economy and key drivers of energy access in addressing national energy access priorities and policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(S1), pages 27-37.
    6. Hirmer, Stephanie & Cruickshank, Heather, 2014. "The user-value of rural electrification: An analysis and adoption of existing models and theories," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 145-154.
    7. Vahlne, Niklas & Ahlgren, Erik O., 2014. "Policy implications for improved cook stove programs—A case study of the importance of village fuel use variations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 484-495.
    8. Sutar, Kailasnath B. & Kohli, Sangeeta & Ravi, M.R. & Ray, Anjan, 2015. "Biomass cookstoves: A review of technical aspects," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 1128-1166.
    9. Sesan, Temilade & Raman, Sujatha & Clifford, Mike & Forbes, Ian, 2013. "Corporate-Led Sustainable Development and Energy Poverty Alleviation at the Bottom of the Pyramid: The Case of the CleanCook in Nigeria," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 137-146.
    10. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:303-312 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Bansal, Mohit & Saini, R.P. & Khatod, D.K., 2013. "Development of cooking sector in rural areas in India—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 44-53.
    12. Kleemann, Linda & Humberg, Kerstin, 2014. "Social business: A new private sector contribution to development? Reflections on opportunities, limitations, and risks," Kiel Policy Brief 82, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    13. repec:eee:enepol:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:182-187 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Raman, Perumal & Ram, Narasimhan K. & Gupta, Ruchi, 2014. "Development, design and performance analysis of a forced draft clean combustion cookstove powered by a thermo electric generator with multi-utility options," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 813-825.
    15. repec:eee:renene:v:118:y:2018:i:c:p:43-55 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Kshirsagar, Milind P. & Kalamkar, Vilas R., 2014. "A comprehensive review on biomass cookstoves and a systematic approach for modern cookstove design," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 580-603.
    17. Sacchidananda MUKHERJEE & Debashis CHAKRABORTY, 2016. "Turning Human Waste into Renewable Energy: Opportunities and Policy Options for India," Turkish Economic Review, KSP Journals, vol. 3(4), pages 610-628, December.
    18. Hirmer, Stephanie & Cruickshank, Heather, 2014. "Making the deployment of pico-PV more sustainable along the value chain," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 401-411.
    19. Richter, Mario, 2013. "Business model innovation for sustainable energy: German utilities and renewable energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1226-1237.
    20. Cheng, Shikun & Li, Zifu & Mang, Heinz-Peter & Neupane, Kalidas & Wauthelet, Marc & Huba, Elisabeth-Maria, 2014. "Application of fault tree approach for technical assessment of small-sized biogas systems in Nepal," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1372-1381.

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