[Stoves] Business sickness (Crispin)

Cookswell Jikos cookswelljikos at gmail.com
Mon Aug 1 13:13:48 MDT 2016

Hi Nikhil,

In light of this interesting email chain what are your thoughts on this
recent development (in Kenya) .

''Import duties on cookstoves and fuels

The government also reduced the import duty on energy efficient cookstoves
from 25% to 10%, thus aligning them with similar cookstoves and cookers
that use gas, electricity, and other fuels that currently attract a 10%
import duty. The benefit of this reduced cost is expected to be passed on
to consumers, encouraging the purchase of more efficient stoves and
enabling the further growth of the companies that design, produce, and
distribute these household products that have a myriad of positive impacts
for consumers and the environment.''

Teddy Kinyanjui.

*Cookswell Jikos*
Mobile: +254 700 380 009
Mobile: +254 700 905 913
P.O. Box 1433, Nairobi 00606, Kenya

Save trees - think twice before printing.

On Sun, Jul 31, 2016 at 9:23 PM, Traveller <miata98 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Nikhil Desai again, on "performance metrics" and subsidies, in response to
> Crispin Pemberton-Pigott.
> ------------
> I partly agree with Crispin, “There is always the possibility that an
> assumption is blocking the way. In this case, that a high performance stove
> (however defined) has to cost a lot more..”
> The primary error is in holding that fuel consumption and emission rates
> are performance metrics. Says who? The bean-counters of petajoules, trees
> and sequestered carbon, DALYs (all of which are cooked numbers)?
> Unfortunately, we have created energy poverty pundits with galling
> ignorance and misinformation. Treating stoves and lungs as mere oxidation
> machines is mockery of the poor. Subsidizing government stove experts to
> control biomass stove designs and subsidies hasn't done a thing for India,
> as this article last year shows so vividly Up in Smoke
> <http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/smoke-India-perfect-cookstove> (Caravan,
> April 2015).
> What matters is creating an aspirational product, for today’s children and
> youth, not grandmas. “High cost” if a barrier, can be dealt with by
> subsidies. The metric of success, in my mind, is whether a user buys a
> second product or a replacement product with lower or no subsidies.
> ---
> There are three main reasons subsidies have not received much attention
> for solid fuel stoves (compared to LPG and electricity): i) Not enough
> confidence in the benefits (as perceived by the poor, including
> convenience); ii) Difficult or irrational technical standards that are
> unenforceable (I can debate this some other time); iii) Perception of
> un-competitive behaviour and potential for corruption or stagnation; iv)
> unclear demand potential and success metrics; and v) potentially high
> administrative costs. The last can get a nightmare with the type of
> Monitoring and Evaluation some donors have been forcing on stove programs;
> poor governments don’t have the luxury of fancy, non-reproducible
> experiments on the poor just for keeping foreign PhDs employed. (Example -
> the infamous MIT gang of Hanna-Duflo-Greenstone.)
> This doesn't apply for all means of subsidies, but the Indian government's
> stove programs have suffered from one or more of these factors over the
> decades.  Giving consumer the choice may get around some of these problems,
> provided i) and ii) are solved (as they are for LPG; pico-PV is getting
> there.) For LPG, PNG and grid electricity - heavily used for some 1/3 to
> 1/2 of cooking energy demand in India, and other sources of emissions
> ignored by the GBD gang - problems iv) and v) are also solved, enough that
> few people bother about iii). A successful subsidy program creates its
> vested interests; for biomass stoves, looks like the only vested interest
> for government subsidies are MNRE and its contractors.
> Some other stoves are probably easier to subsidize – solar cookers (no
> worries about fuel quality and use patterns), biogas small and large, even
> gelfuel and stoves. My crude impression is, governments are happy to leave
> bilateral donors and private charities the field of “improved biomass
> stoves”. None has yet been found worthy of a long-term subsidy program;
> however, I feel other means of support ought to be extended to biomass
> stove designers, testers, manufacturers. Governments are also major buyers
> of fuel and stoves, but I rarely hear much on selling stoves to them. (One
> exception I know of – Albert Butare in Rwanda; I don’t know what came of
> the initiative.)
> I suspect mid-size coal stoves are easier to certify and support – when
> fuel quality is fairly consistent, and utilization rates are high (cooking
> and heating). Their users tend to be not so poor as those who rely on twig
> collection and three-stone fires. Research on coals and their combustion is
> extensive; coal can be burnt “clean enough” for boiler use.
> Miracle biomass stoves that can take any fuel, so appeal to household
> cooks to do a complete permanent switchover for any use .. Wake me up in 15
> years. (Some years ago, I drafted a proposal that opened the door for
> India's Advanced Biomass Stoves program that went up in smoke.)
> Crispin again, "Cecil's question is which stove will find the greatest
> acceptance in the least time? Make and maintain it yourself forever, or
> wait for a subsidy? That is a rational choice. If someone gives you as
> stove and you sell it then make your own, you have benefitted from the
> stove programme.  I know where there are thousands of examples of that.
> Maybe tens of thousands. It depends on the offer."
> If you mean tens of thousands of stoves, not worth the bother. If tens of
> thousands of projects with millions of stoves, worth building a record. Do
> GACC or giz or anybody have such records? I hadn't seen any as of five
> years ago. What do you think has been spent on woodstoves programs in poor
> countries to date by foreign governments, multilateral agencies, and
> charities - some $400 million in 40 years? How much of that on subsidies
> and how much on research, M&E, and learning lessons without really?
> Nikhil
> ---------
> (India +91) 909 995 2080
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2016 15:52:12 -0400
> From: Crispin Pemberton-Pigott <crispinpigott at outlook.com>
> To: "'Discussion of biomass cooking stoves'"
>         <stoves at lists.bioenergylists.org>
> Subject: Re: [Stoves] Fwd: business sickness
> Message-ID: <COL401-EAS369ED0D936E79C2E6CF59BEB1270 at phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Dear Bob L
> I think there is a choice or two that was not covered in your list of the
> options (or rather, Radha?s options if that was the source).
> "a billions women can't afford the stove they need. We have three choices.
> we can leave them out
> we can sell them a stove they can afford that they will abandon
> we can subsidize their purchase.
> we choose to subsidise their purchase."
> One of the things Cecil Cook keeps saying is that the designers have to
> realise that there is an upper limit to what people are willing to spend on
> a stove. That is true, and the amount can be ascertained, but there is more
> complication to it.
> A stove that only does a certain range of things (addressing Nikhil?s
> question about ?performance?) has a certain perceived value. Another device
> that does pretty much the same thing will be assigned pretty much the same
> perceived value.
> Three options: change the perceived value (advertising), or bring more to
> the table (like adding electricity), or increase the performance without
> increasing the cost.
> There is always the possibility that an assumption is blocking the way. In
> this case, that a high performance stove (however defined) has to cost a
> lot more. This is common cause in the donor community, with some but not a
> heck of a lot of justification. Using the same materials and creating a new
> configuration can deliver more benefit without increasing the amount of
> material of the cost.  Some designs would benefit from being mass produced,
> some from mass parts production and local assembly. Some designs require a
> high local skill level and it is difficult to transfer such skills.
> My main point is that delivering far better stoves for the same cost is
> what engineers and in fact universities are good at doing. More function
> for less cost. I mention universities because while they are not major
> sources of invention, they are very good at optimising the application of
> new ideas. Engineers are supposed to optimise the use of materials and cost
> to deliver a given performance target with a required margin of safety as a
> matter of course.
> Practical Action made a major effort in Darfur to improve the performance
> of the local mud stoves that were in common use. They achieved a consistent
> 50% fuel saving across the board without an increase in cost. Such an
> achievement is usually accompanied by a reduction in emissions of smoke and
> CO because they have to be burned to get that magnitude of performance
> increase. Not always, but almost all the time. So we can demonstrate that
> the goal of improvement can be achieved without having to spend more.
> We can also spend more and get an improvement, no problem. Cecil?s
> question is which stove will find the greatest acceptance in the least
> time? Make and maintain it yourself forever, or wait for a subsidy? That is
> a rational choice. If someone gives you as stove and you sell it then make
> your own, you have benefitted from the stove programme.  I know where there
> are thousands of examples of that. Maybe tens of thousands. It depends on
> the offer.
> Bob, it sounds like you have a winner of an approach, and it is quite
> likely the government won?t kick in anything. Don?t give up, but unless
> there is some net beneficial offer it will lag behind in the decision
> tree.  Is it not possible for the communities to kick something in? I live
> in Mennonite country and they frequently do things like that. Local
> self-upliftment. If it is really valuable and appreciated, to what extent
> can a community organise things for its own benefit? I have seen amazing
> things happen.
> Kukaa vizuri
> Crispin
> bob lange      508 735 9176
> the Maasai Stoves and Solar Project.
> the ICSEE
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