[Stoves] No subsidies in TLUD char peoduction (was Re: Testing versus stove acceptance

Nikhil Desai pienergy2008 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 4 22:28:50 MST 2017


Crispin:

I repeat - the word  subsidy has no precise meaning. You are using it
loosely and your interpretation doesn't make any difference.

What is your problem with subsidy? That one person pays partly the cost for
another? What theory of moral behavior are you assuming? Why care if there
are subsidies?

You have a mythical faith in "business case": "I am not afraid of finance.
I am afraid of systems that do not add enough value to all three bottom
lines, as Gordon notes. The business case should be accessible and clear
and then let other implementers decide what  ‎suits their opportunities."

In some cases, an applicant for subsidy may argue a business case based on
his/her assumptions and all that is needed is that you or some committee of
experts reviews and agrees. That can easily degenerate into groupthink.
Even bankers and investment bankers are trapped by the notion that they can
do "due diligence" on every investment or a loan.

I remember an audit of sorts I did for a famous Photovoltaic Market
Transformation Initiative (PVMTI). Equity and debt were offered by a
manager for IFC, who presented a rosy picture of five businesses in India
whom they had qualified for PVMTI support including some grants. One after
another, I tore through the deceit; the borrowers had their own reasons and
their own ways of doing business, and it was as if the fund manager

It is very, very difficult to spend public money right.

There is a lot of babble over the last 30-odd years - 25 years since the
GEF and before that various small funds for business assistance for all
kinds of "renewable energy" junkets - but real business success - where
local commercial debt is captured - is rare. Extremely rare. But that is
what the real life is; public expenditure projects muddle the market
instead of strengthening it. There are ample stories of attempts across all
development activities and there have been successes in fostering
small-scale enterprises that survive and prosper. (Robert's Rwanda work on
grid-connected micro-hydro is one example.)

All you want is more public expenditures to solve a problem, right?

Let me remind you of Gerry Leach's questions very nearly 20 years to the
day: What is the problem? Whose problem is it? How do you know such to be
the case? What have they done about it? How do you know solutions you
proffer would solve their problem?

And you raised one recently - "Who made it your problem?" (I ask myself
that all the time.)

I posit that without a service standard and a rational public policy
objective, both specific to a particular context (SDGs be damned). are
needed to even begin to answer these questions.

Where is this discussion on "what brings or drives investment into research
leading to highly improves stoves and fuels where the investment is public
funding. "? There is a whole field of "science and technology for
development" where a lot of academic research  has been done on defining
research priorities, funding, and so on.

I used to scratch my head and pick arguments with those "science policy"
types about why the so-called "cooking" problem couldn't be solved with
targeted applied research. Gerry's insights cleared up all confusion.
Science and technology funds do not go to "stoving" because it is not clear
to lay persons that stovers know the problem and have a product that works.
GACC-y propaganda is utterly counterproductive.


Nikhil

PS: Please do not use the phrase "Final Solution". It sends shivers up my
spine and I am probably not alone.




On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 7:08 PM, Crispin Pemberton-Pigott <
crispinpigott at outlook.com> wrote:

> Dear Paul
>
> My question related to the CDM project money, which I was calling a
> subsidy.
>
> "Even when the carbon credit operations end, the commercial aspects of the
> TLUD charcoal production and sales should be self-sustaining‎"
>
> Then there is a subsidy involved, just not on the purchase of the stoves,
> isn't that correct?
>
> I am not protesting against subsidies, I am seeking a clear understanding
> of the economics. I am a strong supporter of the ‎use of 'weed species'
> material as a fuel.
>
> It is unfortunate that each 'solution' is presented by its enthusiasts and
> supporters as the Final Solution. Each system that works takes place in a
> context and the details of it matter a lot. They may be reproducible, they
> may not.
>
> As you point out, there are circumstances where some particular
> combination works. You and Ron and Gordon can choose the motivations you
> like. For guys like me who promote a range of technologies it is important
> to give me the macro and micro picture of how the system works.
>
> At this time I am promoting perhaps a dozen stove types each of which has
> a broad or narrow niche. To be quite frank, I should not have to
> independently find out how the West Bengal project works financially. I am
> not afraid of finance. I am afraid of systems that do not add enough value
> to all three bottom lines, as Gordon notes. The business case should be
> accessible and clear and then let other implementers decide what  ‎suits
> their opportunities.
>
> There is an initiative, a discussion, going on now in Mt circle about what
> brings or drives investment into research leading to highly improves stoves
> and fuels where the investment is public funding.
>
> You and I have been advocates of investment in 'blue sky' new ideas for
> ages. The targets are, generally, set too low, historically speaking. Much
> higher performance is possible and the co-benefits are manifold.
>
> You have pointed out that making char while cooking is possible in certain
> cases. Dr AD Karve has pointed out (and made a business case) creating
> charcoal fuel out of sugar cane leaves. He points out there is a resource
> of more than 500m tons of raw material presently wasted (burned in the
> field). I have pointed out that the problem is placing a value on the raw
> material sufficient for it to be collected.
>
> There are agriculturalists who want all plant-sourced material to go back
> into the soil‎. That is a competing interest. They have influence and a
> point to make too.
>
> Let's document the successes (as we interpret them) and place them on the
> table.
>
> Best regards
> Crispin
>
>
>
>
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