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Exploring the nature of rural energy transition in India: Insights from case studies of eight villages in Bihar

Anandajit Goswami (TERI University, New Delhi, India)
Kaushik Ranjan Bandyopadhyay (TERI University, New Delhi, India)
Atul Kumar (Department of Energy and Environment, TERI University, New Delhi, India)

International Journal of Energy Sector Management

ISSN: 1750-6220

Article publication date: 27 July 2017

Issue publication date: 18 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of rural energy transition in cooking options in India. Although India is aiming to achieve a double-digit economic growth, a large share of rural households still rely on firewood for cooking which not only has serious repercussions of increasing indoor pollution but also has a concomitant adverse effect on women and child morbidity and mortality. However, transition to clean energy options like improved cookstoves for these households may not be necessarily linear. It is often driven or resisted by latent factors such as caste, trust, social capital, information flow, social positioning of clusters that are deeply embedded in the social and cultural norms and values specific to local rural contexts. This has been shown in the present case study that pertains to eight villages in the remote and deprived Purnea district of Bihar and the need for internalizing them in the macro energy policymaking has been established in the paper.


The paper applies a macro foundation research that is complemented by micro foundation tools of fuzzy cognitive mapping-based mental model framework to achieve the purpose of the study. Focused-group discussions and interviews are also conducted to establish the narrative of the paper.


Caste, socio-political position, asset structure, remoteness, culture and technology access affect rural households’ decision making capability that is related to shifting from using the traditionalmeans of firewood and biomass based traditional cookstoves for cooking to adopting improved clean cooking stoves which will enable the transition toward the use of clean rural energy in the eight villages in Bihar chosen for this study.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of the paper have larger implications for the broader macro energy policymaking in the country by taking into account the non-linear, latent factors of village contexts.

Practical implications

The research will help energy policymakers in decision-making and will guide the implementation process of national- and state-level policies on rural energy transition in India.

Social implications

The findings of the paper will help the smoother implementation of national- and state-level rural energy transition policies for cooking, creating developmental dividends for rural Indian households.


The research is new with regard to the application of non-deterministic fuzzy cognitive mapping-based mental model approach to contribute to the country’s national- and state-level rural energy transition policies.



The authors will like to thank Mr Amit Kumar, Dr Soumendu Bhattacharjya, Dr Seema Sangita for their inputs in the research of the study. Mr Kanwal Nayan Singh’s input with the GIS analysis has been helpful in the research. Mr Arun Kumar and Mr Sanjeev Kumar’s guidance and inputs in the field analysis has strengthened the research.


Goswami, A., Bandyopadhyay, K.R. and Kumar, A. (2017), "Exploring the nature of rural energy transition in India: Insights from case studies of eight villages in Bihar", International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 463-479.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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