|Energy Survey Methodologies for Developing Countries (BOSTID, 1980)|
Russell J. deLucia
Meta Systems Inc.
A discussion of survey methodologies should start with the questions to be answered and the use to which the answer will be put. A basic premise of this paper is that the appropriate questions and answers should be related to the design and implementation of improvements in the rural energy system. There is a need for a clear picture of micro issues, at least for a handful of situations if not for representative sets of rural areas or villages. Underlying this need is a basic perception that rural areas, in order to increase their production and well-being, require either more intensive energy utilization or more efficient and effective use of energy. Thus the information gathered should reflect possible interventions.
The information required on interventions should encompass more than just specification of demand; in many cases, a wide range of physical, economic, and social information is needed. In getting started, it is helpful to distinguish choices of interventions. A useful distinction can be made among three classes of technologies and/or supply modifications that may be the basis for intervention: source augmentation, conversion technologies, and end-use devices.
Present and future village energy requirements and the technologies to satisfy them should be examined with particular focus on the thermodynamic structure and quality of the end-use energy requirements. In many cases, the economic viability of "decentralized/dispersed/soft" technology alternatives is enhanced by two factors: the lack of existing infrastructure for fossil-based alternatives and the high transport cost of fossil fuels. Village energy requirements consist of heat, light, shaft and other mechanical power, as well as the energy embodied in fertilizer. In general, village energy requirements are often dominated by the heat requirements for cooking; most other heat requirements are low to medium temperature. Increasing attention has been paid to technologies related to this dominant village energy requirement, namely, the design, construction, and diffusion of more efficient stoves.
It is important to distinguish between technologies such as those that improve the end-use efficiency of energy utilization per unit of cooking (stoves) or work (e.g., better harnesses or prows for animal draft), those that either augment or modify the sources, and those that convert the energy sources to a more usable form (or store it). Augmentation technologies and procedures include such techniques as the development of village woodlots and the planting of fast-growing species. Conversion technologies include such new ones as photovoltaics for converting sunlight to electrical energy and age-old ones such as the production of charcoal or the production of low Btu "biogas" from biomass residues and dung.
Viewing rural energy issues from the perspective of both demand and intervention design has obvious implications for information requirements of both the characterization of the end-use demand and the evaluation of possible supply or demand modification interventions. This means knowing about all demands, not just cooking, and about a series of intervention pathways that are the equivalent of alternative fuel cycles from source to end use. But rather than elaborate on these issues, it is useful to cover some conventional areas-namely, the use of traditional fuels and some of the characteristics that have an impact on information methodology-and then return to another view of the intervention process.
TRADITIONAL FUELS: SOME CHARACTERISTICS THAT HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR INFORMATION NEEDS
The traditional fuels of firewood, agricultural residues (rice, straw), etc., are largely noncommercial in the nature of their paths from point of supply to ultimate use, that is, through the fuel cycle; charcoal is the one general exception. Most traditional fuels are gathered by the users, and women (and children) are the major users and gatherers in much of the world. Cash markets usually exist mainly for firewood and charcoal, the more concentrated fuels, but occasionally for dung. These markets are generally geared to urban consumers, but also to some rural households and institutions. Although cash or formal markets may not play an important role for many traditional fuels such as rice or millet straw, there are frequently complex service or exchange relations at work in rural societies in which traditional fuels are just one component.
This noncommercial nature of traditional fuels is one of the reasons that these energy supplies are not generally accounted for in national (not to mention regional or industrial) energy statistics. To the statistician energy has traditionally included only those energy supplies marketed on a large scale by some centralized market system (coal, oil, electricity)-referred to as commercial energies. Although the perceptions of the energy statistician are changing rapidly in this respect, the number of statistics is woefully inadequate.
The complex and competing nature of traditional energy has also been discussed by various investigators (Briscoe 1979), but it should be noted that a single crop or forest area can serve several functions: the trees for fodder (leaves, small branches), building poles, or firewood; the rice straw for fodder, fuel, building material, or fertilizer (when left in the fields). These complexities make the estimation of "fuel supplies" difficult and, when coupled with other characteristics of the problem, argue for a multifaceted approach to the problem. The problem of traditional fuels is one of development; consideration of these problems in rural areas must be an integrated approach that includes agriculture and forestry policies as well as other issues.
DIFFICULTIES IN ESTIMATING TRADITIONAL FUEL SUPPLIES AND USE
Estimates of availability and consumption of agriculture- and livestock-derived traditional fuels are related to a number of factors: primary agricultural or livestock production; forestry production levels; coefficients relating residue production to production of primary product; availability of residue to potential user; and problems encountered in consumption surveys.
In many countries reliable data are lacking on crop production levels or numbers of livestock. Many nations lack reliable estimates of crop areas; crop yields are always less well known. Information necessary for agricultural (not to mention energy) planning is insufficient.
Benchmarks for crop and livestock data are often agricultural censuses which may have been done at much earlier dates. Forest statistics are even less reliable (or available) than agricultural statistics. Because fuelwood is not directly related to roundwood, statistics that are usually available are of limited use in extrapolating to fuelwood.
The literature varies widely in coefficient estimates of residue to primary product production for certain crops and for cow dung production. A number of possible factors could be the source of these discrepancies. For example, grain-to-stalk coefficients can vary widely depending on the particular crop varieties in use. Thus in Bangladesh, high-yielding rice has a coefficient close to one; traditional rice, three; and floating rice, over four. Such legitimate differences need to be considered, and care must be exercised before using coefficients based on another situation in which the varieties (and/or yields) are quite different.
Large country-to-country differences in dung production exist because of differences in breeds, diet, and herd management practices. Use of U.S. numbers in these cases usually results in overestimating dung production. Analogous differences exist regarding the ratio of total biomass available (leaves, twigs, branches) to production measures that are designed primarily for estimating roundwood production.
For a variety of reasons, residue and firewood availability to the user can vary markedly from country to country, within a country, and across groups at a given place. A number of factors influence this. For example, some countries mandate that residues be burned in the field to control disease (e.g., cotton in the Sudan). In other countries, field burning is a traditional practice. Access to residues of the rich may be denied to the poor so that even in such a fuel-poor country as Bangladesh, rich farmers now burn rice straw in the field. This phenomenon accompanies the transition from traditional to market rural economies.
In many countries, the degree of forest depletion in areas of population concentration is extreme. Consequently, while firewood may be available on a national level, if the nearest woodstand is 100 kilometers away, there will be little firewood use. In other cases, the forest stands may be available in terms of distance, but government or other ownership and use regulations will prevent utilization of firewood.
The problems of access to dung are not just a matter of ownership, although this is a factor. Animals that graze in forests and uncultivated lands have a much lower availability fraction of dung than those kept in stalls.
Finally, one of the greatest difficulties in estimating relevant traditional fuel factors is that traditional (and commercial) fuel consumption studies are particularly hard to design and implement. Most of those undertaken suffer from numerous defects. In most cases they do not actually measure use, but rely on users' estimates and recollections, as with the India, Nepal, and Bangladesh consumption surveys. Frequently, there are terminology problems between enumerator and respondent, such that distinctions between firewood and agricultural residues become blurred.
1 Any discussion of energy information needs should start from the
perspective that the purpose of information is to lead to interventions that
make things better in the rural area.
2 Any program design should first acknowledge that there are a number of points at which it is possible to intervene, and that the information requirements for an intervention may differ dramatically. For example, one geared to modify end-use demand is markedly different from one geared to supply augmentation, and the selection of what class of intervention is best is less than obvious.
3 Current rural energy balances are dominated by traditional fuel use. A better understanding of this use and its sources is important in intervention design, but the information-gathering (either primary or secondary) problems are large.
4 Rural production systems are complex physical/ social systems frequently at low-level equilibrium, and energy-related interventions may "cascade" through the system. Adequate intervention design requires analysis of this cascade as well as more conventional technique and cost analysis. Even then, however, there are no guarantees.
5 The reasons for success and/or failure in known rural energy intervention programs are less than clear. It is here that the "literature" and the "experts" are weakest. A country- or region-specific energy information program should synthesize and learn from existing work. But general survey work and resident observation efforts are still needed, since there is no appropriate model applicable to all situations and problems. More important is an understanding of the problems and of the possible interventions to be designed.
Briscoe, J. 1979. The Political Economy of Energy Use in Rural Bangladesh. Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.