Journal Article - Energy Policy

Scaling Up Biomass Gasifier Use: An Application-Specific Approach

| September 2006

Abstract

Biomass energy accounts for about 11% of the global primary energy supply, and it is estimated that about 2 billion people worldwide depend on biomass for their energy needs. Yet, most of the use of biomass is in a primitive and inefficient manner, primarily in developing countries, leading to a host of adverse implications on human health, environment, workplace conditions, and social well being. Therefore, the utilization of biomass in a clean and efficient manner to deliver modern energy services to the world's poor remains an imperative for the development community. One possible approach to do this is through the use of biomass gasifiers. Although significant efforts have been directed towards developing and deploying biomass gasifiers in many countries, scaling up their dissemination remains an elusive goal. Based on an examination of biomass gasifier development, demonstration, and deployment efforts in India—a country with more than two decades of experiences in biomass gasifier development and dissemination, this article identifies a number of barriers that have hindered widespread deployment of biomass gasifier-based energy systems. It also suggests a possible approach for moving forward, which involves a focus on specific application areas that satisfy a set of criteria that are critical to deployment of biomass gasifiers, and then tailoring the scaling up strategy to the characteristics of the user groups for that application. Our technical, financial, economic and institutional analysis suggests an initial focus on four categories of applications—small and medium enterprises, the informal sector, biomass-processing industries, and some rural areas—may be particularly feasible and fruitful.

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For Academic Citation: Ghosh, Debyani, Ambuj D. Sagar, and V.V.N. Kishore. Scaling Up Biomass Gasifier Use: An Application-Specific Approach.” Energy Policy, vol. 34. no. 13. (September 2006):
1566-1582
.