Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security (PISCES)

Client: DFID

Project value: £3 000 000

Country: Kenya, Tanzania, India and Sri Lanka

Dates: July 2007 – Dec 2013

Lead office: PAC UK


Description of Project:

Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security (PISCES) is a five-year bioenergy action research project funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and led by the African Centre for Technology Studies in Kenya, with partners in Sri Lanka, India, Tanzania and the UK. These are the University of Dar es Salaam, the University of Edinburgh, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and Practical Action Consulting East Africa, South Asia and UK.

The overall goal of this project is to generate new research on bioenergy in South Asia and East Africa, and provide policy makers with information and approaches that they can apply to unlock the potential of bioenergy to improve energy access and livelihoods in poor rural communities.

The objective of the project is to show demonstrable policy change leading to energy access impacts in each research country, and to contribute to global knowledge regarding bioenergy and development. The project aims to develop new knowledge on the contribution bioenergy makes to energy access for the rural poor and their livelihoods. 

Work carried out by PAC team:

PAC UK, Southern Asia and East Africa are leading the research theme on Access and Delivery, with a focus in Kenya and Sri Lanka. This work involves development and use of socio-economic and market systems development tools to determine viable models, incentives and regulations which can create and sustain improved bioenergy access and rural livelihoods.

The research carried out by PAC UK includes participatory market mapping of rural bioenergy market systems. PAC East Africa and South Asia have established policy working groups on bioenergy in Kenya and Sri Lanka incorporating relevant stakeholders which are supporting and contributing directly into bioenergy policy formulation.

Steven Hunt - Delivery Models for Energy Access in developing countries

Selection of PISCES publications

Gender Equity, Charcoal and the Value Chain, Western Kenya : This working brief was prepared by an Msc student from the University of Edinburgh after conducting field research in western Kenya under the PISCES project. Using focus group discussions and interviews with stakeholders across the charcoal value chain, the research considers the role gender constructs play in allowing men and women to participate in particular activities. This has important repercussions as the charcoal industry moves towards formalisation in relation to income earning opportunities for women

Sustainable Tree Management for Charcoal Production: The Acacia Pocketbook is part of a series of publications promoting a sustainable charcoal sector in Kenya. Along with the Charcoal Policy Handbook and Charcoal Policy Pocketbook, this guide to sustainable tree management is meant to be a practical guide for farmers on up to date, sustainable feedstock management and charcoal production techniques. It has been produced by PISCES in close collaboration with Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and input from Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

Jatropha: The Broom of Poverty: Myth or Reality? A critical analysis of the Zimbabwean Jatropha Programme in Mutoko District.
This working brief critically examines the socio-economic and rural livelihood impacts of the Zimbabwean Jatropha biodiesel programme on rural farmers.
With the biofuels discourse shifting from the use of first generation feedstocks, which can also be used as food crops, to second generation biofuels which use exclusively non-food feedstocks, jatropha emerged as the plant of choice in many countries including Zimbabwe

Biomass Gasification: The East African Study. Biomass gasification, which is the conversion of solid fuels like wood and agricultural residues into a combustible gas mixture, is a fairly new technology in East Africa with most of the projects either at planning or demonstration stages. The technology has been applied in electricity generation especially in rural areas allowing households to access their energy needs. The technology has also been applied in enterprise development in the peri-urban and rural areas where it has been used for running sawmills,power supply and milling of cereals

Liquid Biofuels Strategies and Policies in selected African Countries A review of some of the challenges. This report reviews current debates, policies and challenges surrounding liquid biofuels in a number of African countries. It provides a global biofuels context and also highlights the situation of energy poverty in Africa before considering what can be gained or lost from developing the biofuels market as a means of meeting domestic energy needs

Gender and Equity in Bioenergy Access and Delivery in Kenya, April 2008: A comprehensive assessment of gender as it relates to bioenergy access, delivery, supply, and production. Policy dimensions and other issues are also considered.

Bioenergy and Land: A review of linkages and impacts with a focus on Africa, Over recent decades, biofuel production has emerged as a new and significant factor competing for land and water resources and creating a potential conflict with food production. Following the scoping study produced for the PISCES Research Consortium in November 2008 into the impacts of bioenergy development on food security (Clements, 2008), the present paper analyses the impacts of bioenergy development on land, with a particular focus on current impacts in Africa where large areas of land are being bought up,  largely by private investors, for energy crop plantations.

Bioenergy Market System Development Comparing Participatory Approaches in Kenya and Sri Lanka, Biomass is the most commonly consumed form of energy in Kenya at about 68% of the national energy consumption. The charcoal industry employs over 700,000 people and represents the second largest rural industry in the country (ES DA, 2005).

Scale-Up and Commercialisation of Improved Cookstoves in Sri Lanka, Interest in cook stove improvement in Sri Lanka started in the early 1950s. These activities were initiated among the migrant South Indian community that worked in tea plantations concentrated in the central part of the country who had been influenced by the interest generated in the South India. However, these were not replicated in other parts of the country, possibly due to the abudance of the fuel-wood in those areas and also due to a lack of wider interest and awareness of the significance if Improved Cook Stoves  (ICS). 

For a full list of publications see: Pisces publications online

Useful Links:

PISCES Energy Delivery Model Tool: Developed by Practical Action Consulting, provides energy practitioners and project designers with a greater insight into the successful delivery of energy projects. It has been developed as part of the PISCES international research project to stimulate discussion and reflection on effective approaches to rural energy access

Trees for the future: A photostory illustrating how charcoal production in Kenya can be a sustainable process. This was organised as part of the PISCES project’s work to support the development of a legal, visible and sustainable charcoal market that can enhance livelihoods and formalise the industry.

PISCES website: New knowledge for sustainable bioenergy

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