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Waste Not: Can Household Biogas Deliver Sustainable Development?

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  • Robyn Meeks

    (Duke University)

  • Katharine R. E. Sims

    (Amherst College)

  • Hope Thompson

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Household biogas systems are a renewable energy technology with the potential to provide sustainable development benefits by reducing pressure on forest stocks and by shifting household time allocation towards higher value activities or long-term investments in human capital. We estimate the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of biogas expansion in Nepal using an instrumental variables approach that exploits conditional variation in access to biogas installation companies. We confirm prior evidence that biogas use significantly reduces collected fuelwood, estimating changes of approximately 800–2000 kg per year per household. We find new evidence that biogas saves time in fuelwood collection (23–47%), and results in reallocation of time away from home production and wage labor towards agricultural labor and education. We find that biogas reduced forest cover loss in the Hill region and when combined with other forest protection policies. Together the results suggest that biogas can contribute modestly to sustainable development, particularly in combination with complimentary opportunities or policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Robyn Meeks & Katharine R. E. Sims & Hope Thompson, 2019. "Waste Not: Can Household Biogas Deliver Sustainable Development?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 72(3), pages 763-794, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:72:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-018-0224-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-018-0224-1
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    9. Talevi, Marta & Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. & Das, Ipsita & Lewis, Jessica J. & Singha, Ashok K., 2022. "Speaking from experience: preferences for cooking with biogas in rural India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 113454, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deforestation; Double dividend; Environment; Renewable energy technology; Sustainable development; Time use;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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