Alternative fuels - One way to reduce woodfuel demand
Many stove programmes originated with the specific intention of
reducing deforestation, and consequently tended to concentrate on fuelwood and
on ways to reduce its consumption. This often led to a concentration on
developing efficient ways of using fuelwood rather than looking for direct
substitutes. This is very understandable: most programmes started in the early
'80s when fossil fuels were rising very fast and other renewable energy
technologies were very expensive.
The picture has now changed drastically and a rethink of
strategies for stopping deforestation is necessary. While fuel-efficient stoves
have their part to play - especially in rural areas - there now appears to bean
increasing range of options for at least urban dwellers in many countries.
Briquetting technologies are becoming more productive and cheaper
- especially as fuelwood prices climb steeply in many parts of the world.
Kerosene prices have more than halved since the early '80s, and with prices
unlikely to rise relative to general price levels in the medium term, kerosine
becomes an alternative option for many urban settings. LPG can similarly have
While solar cooking remains largely a glint in engineers' eyes and
unpopular with users, some of the new convective designs may have relevance for
refugee camps and institutions. Slow cookers and storage cookers powered by
electricity are also becoming cheaper and more attractive, especially where
there is ballast electricity from hydro or photo-voltaics.
Sometimes we are guilty of addressing fuelwood problems from too
narrow a perspective. It is time that we removed our blinkers and considered all
the possible options to removing the fuelwood constraint in the most attractive
way to users and in the most effective way for a