|Boiling Point No. 12 - April 1987 (ITDG Boiling Point, 1987)|
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 advantages.
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 country