The paper reports on recent research in Tanzania about the scope for developing biofuels from an oil-seed bearing plant called Jatropha Curcas Linnaeus. The plant is widely seen to have potential to help combat the greenhouse effect, help to stop local soil erosion, create additional income for the rural poor, and provide a major source of energy both locally and internationally. The oil can be used in diesel engines, oil lamps and cooking stoves, and as a basic component in soapmaking.
The seedcake can be used for biogas production and as fertiliser. Our principal analytic tool is Strategic Niche Management (SNM), a recently developed approach rooted in evolutionary innovation theory. We analyse how the scope for an energy transition is influenced by factors at three societal levels distinguished in SNM, namely: the overarching ‘landscape’; the sectoral setting or ‘regime’; and the ‘niche’ level where the innovation develops and diffuses. Valuable niche processes were found in a few areas, especially in cultivation, but there are still many obstacles in Tanzania’s prevailing energy regime. The development of Jatropha biofuels is still in an early phase. The SNM analysis yields several policy recommendations. Methodological issues arising from the use of SNM are discussed as well.
|ECIS working paper series