Abstract for: Uptake of Alternative Energy Technology by Energy Poor Households in Rural Rajasthan, India

Nearly 3 billion people around the world use solid biomass, such as fuelwood and crop waste, for cooking and heating. The implementation of biogas, liquid petroleum gas, solar and other alternative energy cookstoves presents an opportunity to alleviate the burden of fuelwood collection and the health implications associated with inefficient biomass combustion while mitigating the negative ecological and climate effects of deforestation. Many governments and international development agencies have initiated programs to distribute alternative energy cookstoves, but the new technologies rarely achieve sustained use with consumers. While funds have been widely distributed to research the technical design of cookstove technologies, very little systematic research has been done to understand and improve implementation and use of the technologies in the complex markets they target. One such market is the rural poor village. This paper describes the development of a system dynamics model of the implementation of biogas cookstove technology in villages of Rajasthan. Through field visits and an iterative modeling process, our team (consisting of two Systems Engineering undergraduates and a Social Work professor) investigates the drivers of adoption and abandonment of biogas in such villages. At the current modeling stage, we find the incidence of unit failure to be a key factor in hindering the acceptance of biogas technology.