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Speaking from experience: Preferences for cooking with biogas in rural India

Marta Talevi, Subhrendu Pattanayak, Ipsita Das, Jessica J. Lewis and Ashok K. Singha

Energy Economics, 2022, vol. 107, issue C

Abstract: Biogas has the potential to satisfy the clean energy needs of millions of households in under-served and energy-poor rural areas, while reducing both private and social costs linked to (i) fuels for household cooking, (ii) fertilizers, (iii) pressure on forests, and (iv) emissions (e.g., PM2.5 and methane) that damage both household health and global climate. While the literature has focused on identifying these costs, less attention has been paid to household preferences for biogas systems — specifically what attributes are popular with which types of households. We conduct a discrete choice experiment with 503 households in rural Odisha, India, to better characterize preferences for different attributes (smoke reduction, fuel efficiency, and maintenance) and for different cooking technologies (biogas and an improved biomass cookstove). We find that on average households value smoke reduction and fuel efficiency. Willingness to pay (WTP) a premium for the improved biomass cookstove is low, while willingness to pay a premium for biogas is high. Nonetheless, WTP varies by the type of previous experience with biogas (e.g., good or bad experience) and with time and risk preferences of households. While risk-averse and impatient respondents have lower WTP for the improved cookstoves, previous experience with biogas attenuates this gap. These findings suggest that biogas uptake and diffusion could be improved by complementing existing subsidies with technology trials, good quality products, maintenance, and customer services to reduce uncertainty.

Keywords: Energy poverty; Biogas; Improved cookstoves; Air pollution; Firewood; Discrete choice experiment; Odisha (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I3 Q2 Q4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2021.105796

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