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The Role of Small and Medium-Scale Renewable Energy Technologies in Poverty Alleviation, Environmental ustainability and Economic Development in Ethiopia

by

Workeneh Gashie


Executive Summary

Ethiopia has substantial energy resources, such as hydropower, biomass, solar, wind, coal and geothermal. Despite its immense energy resource potential, the country has one of the lowest per energy capita consumption in the world. The bulk of the countryís energy demand is met by biomass resources in unsustainable ways leading to severe land degradation and a decline in agricultural productivity in many parts of the country.

This study was designed with a general objective of assessing the dissemination of small and medium-scale renewable technologies and the roles they have played in poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and the development of the Ethiopian economy, and to identifying appropriate policy options that can create conducive environment for their effective dissemination. The study also assesses the profile of the Ethiopian renewable energy technologies. To achieve this objective, adequate data was required and hence a combination of methods of data collection were employed such as baseline survey, desk-document review, interviews and discussions.

The study demonstrates that small and medium-scale renewable energy technologies can reduce gender gaps and rehabilitate the environment. With a large number of technologies disseminated to users in all income levels, the study showed that energy expenditure could be significantly reduced and hence the real income of the poor can increase which eventually reduces the prevalence of poverty.
 

A baseline survey was employed to assess the dissemination level of some selected small and medium- scale technologies such as pico and micro hydropower plants, solar cookers, solar driers, solar water heaters, Mirt Injera baking stove, Lakech charcoal stove, and treadle and hydraulic ram pumps. Among these technologies, Mirt Stove and Lakech Stove are renewable options widely distributed in all parts of Ethiopia. Solar water heaters are also promising options. The other renewable options are still at the level of demonstration even though they have been introduced in the country by NGOs long time ago. The main reason for the underdevelopment of other renewable technologies is limited attention paid to renewable energy development sub-sector by the government of Ethiopia. For instance, Government capital budget allocated to renewable energy sub-sector for the 10 consecutive years towards the end of the last century was less than 1% of the total budget while it was about 92% for conventional power generation sub-sector.

In this study, some case studies were conducted on Mirt Stoves, Lakech Stoves and Solar Water Heaters. The Mirt Stove was developed by CEINFMP in 1992/93 to alleviate problems associated with three stones biomass stove for Injera baking.

The baseline survey carried out by the researcher in 2004/05 indicated that information about the stove has been widely distributed in both rural and urban areas through Ethiopiaís mass media, posters, leaflets, market demonstration and observation at friendsí or relativesí houses. Seeing the stove at friendsí and relativesí house is the main source of information of users.  However, the coverage of the stove is still very low. The main reasons are lack of proper kitchens in urban areas and the unavailability of the stove itself in the rural areas. The major factor for the unavailability of the stove in rural areas is probably low dissemination capacity of responsible government organizations.

The Lakech charcoal stove was adapted by CEINFMP from the Kenyan Ceramic Jiko (KCJ) in 1990, to improve household energy efficiency. The Lakech stove is the most widely used stove for non-Injera cooking activities in cities and towns of Ethiopia. The survey carried out by the researcher in 2004/05 indicated that with the exception of non-charcoal users, almost all of the urban peoples of the country use the stove. The survey results also indicated that households prefer the Lakech stove over other charcoal stoves mainly due to its efficiency in fuel saving. Different types of Lakech stoves with different thermal efficiency are produced and disseminated in all parts of Ethiopia at present. Unfortunately, the least thermal efficient Lakech stove is the most widely distributed which might be the result of low level of awareness of the people about the differences existing among the stoves. Thus, the quality of the stove needs to be controlled and communicated to the community to enable them identify efficient stoves from inefficient ones. This appears an important responsibility for energy concerned organizations.

Solar water heaters have emerged as a good option after several years of total neglect, due to the escalation of the prices of petroleum and electricity in the last 2 to 3 decades in Ethiopia. However, due to shortage of information and high initial cost of the technology, the rate of its dissemination is very low.

Even though the number of disseminated renewable energy technologies is not large enough as it could be, a number of job opportunities have been created, womenís and childrenís workloads have been reduced and environmental conservation and economic development appear to have been improved. Investment costs needed for establishing these renewable energy technologies are very low as compared to benefits that can be obtained and should therefore be promoted more aggressively.

 


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