Experimental evidence on promotion of electric and improved biomass cookstoves
Improved cookstoves (ICS) can deliver “triple wins” by improving household health, local environments, and global climate. Yet their potential is in doubt because of low and slow diffusion, likely because of constraints imposed by differences in culture, geography, institutions, and missing markets. We offer insights about this challenge based on a multiyear, multiphase study with nearly 1,000 households in the Indian Himalayas. In phase I, we combined desk reviews, simulations, and focus groups to diagnose barriers to ICS adoption. In phase II, we implemented a set of pilots to simulate a mature market and designed an intervention that upgraded the supply chain (combining marketing and home delivery), provided rebates and financing to lower income and liquidity constraints, and allowed households a choice among ICS. In phase III, we used findings from these pilots to implement a field experiment to rigorously test whether this combination of upgraded supply and demand promotion stimulates adoption. The experiment showed that, compared with zero purchase in control villages, over half of intervention households bought an ICS, although demand was highly price-sensitive. Demand was at least twice as high for electric stoves relative to biomass ICS. Even among households that received a negligible price discount, the upgraded supply chain alone induced a 28 percentage-point increase in ICS ownership. Although the bundled intervention is resource-intensive, the full costs are lower than the social benefits of ICS promotion. Our findings suggest that market analysis, robust supply chains, and price discounts are critical for ICS diffusion.
Pattanayak, SK; Jeuland, M; Lewis, JJ; Usmani, F; Brooks, N; Bhojvaid, V; Kar, A; Lipinski, L; Morrison, L; Patange, O; Ramanathan, N; Rehman, IH; Thadani, R; Vora, M; Ramanathan, V
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