Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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16.1 Introduction

This chapter includes thirty case studies illustrating issues discussed in the earlier chapters of this report. The objective of including these case studies is to demonstrate the distinctive problems and special opportunities that managers and implementers are likely to encounter in dealing with technology transfer.

This chapter is the work of 30 coordinating and lead authors from 13 countries (Belgium, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Samoa, Switzerland, Uganda, Uruguay, Ukraine, and the United States). Additional experts from many countries served as peer reviewers. These experts have been drawn from national and regional government agencies, public and private research organisations, multinational and local companies, industry and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The cases included in this chapter encompass both mitigation and adaptation strategies within the context of climate change. Case studies in mitigation include initiatives to foster dematerialisation, de-carbonisation of energy sources, industrial ecology, dissemination and commercialisation of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency programmes, and household biomass energy usage. Additional case studies are included where institutional reform and market transformation efforts have led to conservation and the protection and use of indigenous resources. Case studies on adaptation focus primarily on technologies/practices in the agriculture and forestry sectors, mitigation of health impacts, and tools and strategies for coastal management. While some information from these cases appear throughout this volume, this chapter provides a consistent methodological approach to the case study research that enables a comparative analysis of approaches, challenges, and lessons learned.

Over the past decade, government, non-governmental, grass-roots, and private sector institutions and organisations have worked-with varying degrees of success-to develop, implement, and commercialise a diverse mix of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) and resource management methods. These efforts provide valuable insights for actions that can be taken in a variety of sectors for enhancing adoption and use of mitigation and adaptation technologies.

Renewable energy technologies (RETs), for example, are increasingly used throughout the world to address energy shortages and to expand the range of services in both rural and urban areas. In Kenya over 80,000 small (20-100 Wp) photovoltaic solar home systems, battery charging stations and other small enterprises have been commercially financed and installed (Hankins, 1993; Acker and Kammen, 1996), while a government programme in Mexico has disseminated over 40,000 systems. In the Inner Mongolian autonomous region of China over 130,000 portable windmills provide electricity to about one-third of the non-grid-connected households in this region (Byrne et al., 1998). In all these projects, the case studies demonstrate that the competitive market can be used to generate interest in renewables, as long as there is a baseline awareness of the technology and early market deployment is targeted at the parties most willing to participate.

Other lessons are learned from programmes that disseminate and encourage the use of improved biomass cookstoves, which are active in more than fifty nations. In India, a government programme has disseminated over eight million improved cookstoves, while nationally coordinated district-level initiatives in China account for over 120 million stoves (Smith et al., 1993; Barnes et al., 1994), and public-private partnerships in Kenya have introduced improved cookstoves to over half of the urban populace (Kammen, 1995a, b). In India, the construction of biogas digesters is supported by a government subsidy while maintenance and educational outreach is available from a mobile 'technology clinic' provided by a non governmental organisation (NGO). A variety of international networks exist to promote and support the dissemination of improved cookstoves and other improved efficiency biomass technologies. Dozens of successful programmes have used community outreach to promote the new technologies.

Cases in the industrial sector identify information programmes as an important first step for selecting appropriate technology for a specific service. Programmes that specifically aim to increase consumers' awareness, acceptance, and use of particular technologies are designed to assist consumers in understanding and adopting more efficient technologies and practices. While information is seen to be a key factor in some cases, environmental legislation or the regulatory framework for enforcing standards can prove to be a crucial factor in the adoption of advanced technologies, as in the case of India (TERI, 1997).

These examples provide just a few of the insights gained from these case studies. A similar range of programmes and lessons exists in each of the areas of technology transfer covered in this chapter and in this volume as a whole.

The number and magnitude of these programmes marks a qualitative departure from past efforts to develop and transfer ESTs into general use. Increasingly, lessons from these projects encompass not only technical insights, but equally valuable economic and social analysis as well. The current reliance on market-forces and sustainable institutions for climate protection requires the incorporation of local knowledge in research and implementation of incentive programmes, innovative ownership and leasing arrangements, and in some cases subsidies (Cabraal et al., 1995; Inversin, 1996).

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