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close this book Boiling Point No. 27 - April 1992
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Wood Energy Use in Small Enterprises

National Workshop on Conservation for Sustainability, India, from Wood Energy News, Vol 6, No. 3. For more information contact The Chairman NSIC, Laghu Ugyog Bhavan, Okhla Industrial Estate, New Delhi 110020, INDIA.

In the last week of October '91, a national workshop on wood energy use in small enterprises was organized by the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), in collaboration with the Regional Wood Energy Development Programme, (RWEDP). The idea of the workshop was conceived at the regional consultation on wood energy use in small enterprises, held in March 1990.

Deliberations at this national workshop focused on the need and scope for support to wood fuel conservation activities in small enterprises to enhance the sustainability of both these enterprises and the woodfuel resources on which they depend.

Many of these enterprises rely on biomass for their main source of energy. Results from an earlier study reported at the workshop, see Fig I, indicated that over 30 different production processes rely predominantly on biomass fuels, including agro-residues such as bagasse, but also fuelwood.

In terms of the share of total woodfuel use in India, the consumption by households is many times larger than that of enterprises. It is estimated that out of the total annual consumption of 133 million tons of fuelwood and the additional 113 million tons of other biomass fuels, about 10% is used by enterprises.

Hence the need for a set of indicators, to select those enterprises that would benefit most from support in wood energy conservation, was readily identified.

Share of Fuelwood Cost in Total Production Cost: In some small scale production processes, such as in building materials (tiles, bricks, lime), fish smoking and palm sugar production, fuelwood costs are over half and up to three quarters of the overall production cost. It is obvious that in many such cases, more efficient use of fuelwood could make a major contribution to the sustainability of these small enterprises.

Though energy interventions should always be justified from a wider perspective of small enterprise development, it is in the category of interventions here that the energy conservation emphasis is most obvious. This implies that the usual energy conservation approach (energy audits, tested device design approaches etc.) may be most successful in this type of situation.


Fig 1 Enterprises Using Wood for Energy

The examples of support to small bakeries and silk cocoon processing as presented in the workshop, illustrated that also in cases where energy costs are only a relatively small portion of overall production cost, there may be much scope for energy oriented interventions, to improve product quality and working conditions. Both for the identification of cases and of the objectives of the energy intervention, it is essential that small enterprise development perspectives predominate and guide the energy intervention. This applies equally to assistance to existing enterprises and to the support of new ones, such as in the processing of agro-products to add value on site.

Research Projects Plans

BP plans to start a regular feature to report on stove research being carried out or planned by readers, stove projects, technological or sociological institutions, university departments etc. Reports could be brief accounts of current or planned research work or could be more detailed reports of a more technical nature. It is hoped that we will be able to maintain contact with the projects and keep our readers informed of progress.

Peter Young, our Senior Technical Manager, will be a coeditor for this column and would like to hear from any research workers who may wish to contribute to this column.