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Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries: Case of Biogas Digester in Indonesia

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Technological innovation is considered to be one of the key strategies to maintain the global temperature below 2 °C. Since emerging and low-income countries are now responsible for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Paris agreement, there is an implied need to balance their development mandate and climate change policies. This chapter highlights frugal eco-innovation as a means of providing basic needs while including the requirement to urgently address climate change in these regions. The characteristics of frugal and eco-innovation are explored to identify the appropriateness of technologies within the context of emerging and low-income regions. These characteristics are applied to demonstrate the economic and social benefits of the low-carbon technologies at the local level. Meanwhile, the eco-innovation’s characteristics demonstrate a potential for cascading positive impacts at a larger scale. Finally, the Alternative Pathways framework is applied to describe the trajectory of frugal eco-innovation through low-carbon narratives. This framework also helps to make explicit the dominating fossil fuel pathway and powerful actors while identifying alternative technology pathways and different (nondominating) actor groups that could potentially transform the rural energy system. Portable biogas is identified as a frugal eco-innovation that represents an alternative pathway which can potentially lead to wider transformation for the cooking energy sector in rural Indonesia. The innovation can create knock-on socioeconomic benefits for lower-income communities while contributing to GHG emission reduction at national level. This frugal eco-innovation process is led by the private sectors with the support of policy environment and acceptance and implementation at the local community level.
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Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing
Climate Change in Emerging Countries:
Case of Biogas Digester in Indonesia
Cynthia Ismail, Fabian Wiropranoto, Takeshi Takama, Jenny Lieu,
and Luis D. Virla
Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . ............................................................................. 2
Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries Through Frugal Eco-innovation
and Alternative Pathways Framework ........................................................ 2
The Appropriateness of Frugal Eco-innovation to Describe the Case Study ................ 5
Enacting the Potential of Frugal Eco-innovation for the Transformation of Rural Energy
System in Indonesia ........................................................................... 10
Alternative Pathways Framework ............................................................ 11
Narrative of Development and Deployment of Biogas in Indonesia . . . ......................... 13
Mainstream Pathway: Unsustainable Biomass and Kerosene ............................... 13
On-Stream Pathway: LPG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Off-Stream Pathway: Synthetic Gas, Wood Pellets, and Biogas ............................. 14
Frugal Eco-innovation Elements as an off-Stream Pathway ................................. 17
Frugal Eco-innovation as Transformative Forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . .. .. . .. . .. . . 21
Conclusion ........................................................................................ 23
References ........................................................................................ 25
Abstract
Technological innovation is considered to be one of the key strategies to maintain
the global temperature below 2 °C. Since emerging and low-income countries are
now responsible for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Paris agree-
ment, there is an implied need to balance their development mandate and climate
change policies. This chapter highlights frugal eco-innovation as a means of
providing basic needs while including the requirement to urgently address climate
C. Ismail · F. Wiropranoto · T. Takama (*)
Sustainability and Resilience, Bali, Indonesia
e-mail: takeshi.takama@su-re.co
J. Lieu
Delft University of Technology, Multi Actor Systems Department, Delft, The Netherlands
L. D. Virla
University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021
W. Leal Filho et al. (eds.), Handbook of Climate Change Management,
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-22759-3_177-1
1
change in these regions. The characteristics of frugal and eco-innovation are
explored to identify the appropriateness of technologies within the context of
emerging and low-income regions. These characteristics are applied to demon-
strate the economic and social benets of the low-carbon technologies at the local
level. Meanwhile, the eco-innovations characteristics demonstrate a potential for
cascading positive impacts at a larger scale. Finally, the Alternative Pathways
framework is applied to describe the trajectory of frugal eco-innovation through
low-carbon narratives. This framework also helps to make explicit the dominating
fossil fuel pathway and powerful actors while identifying alternative technology
pathways and different (nondominating) actor groups that could potentially
transform the rural energy system. Portable biogas is identied as a frugal
eco-innovation that represents an alternative pathway which can potentially
lead to wider transformation for the cooking energy sector in rural Indonesia.
The innovation can create knock-on socioeconomic benets for lower-income
communities while contributing to GHG emission reduction at national level.
This frugal eco-innovation process is led by the private sectors with the support of
policy environment and acceptance and implementation at the local community
level.
Keywords
Frugal eco-innovation · Clean cooking energy · Alternative pathways ·
Indonesia · Climate change
Introduction
Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries Through Frugal
Eco-innovation and Alternative Pathways Framework
Every continent is under serious threat of climate change. Particularly, emerging and
lower-income countries are more vulnerable to climate change risks as they still
strive for economic growth. Emerging countries with high economic growth like
China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil have voluntarily committed to reduce GHG
emissions in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as part
of the Paris Agreement. These emerging countries highlighted the concept of
sustainable development and promoted clean energy as part of their strategy to
deal with climate change while maintaining economic growth. So far, most of the
strategies proposed are technology-centered while other innovations, such as those
in agriculture, have also been considered.
A set of sustainable strategies to reduce GHG do not only employ the
low-emission technologies that are available today but also encourage the innovation
of required new technologies (Rubin 2011). In early innovation studies, the process
of technological innovation has been motivated by an urge to solve certain economic
problems within a silo, thus giving limited attention to the interplay with external
2 C. Ismail et al.
forces (e.g., social, cultural, and environmental factors) (Kemp et al. 1998). In
contrast, current energy transitions literature provides more insights on the need
for socio-technical change. For instance, the maturity of technological innovation in
addressing environmental problems such as air pollution and water pollution is a
more recent development unlike other industries such as electronics or automotive
(Rubin 2011). The complex nature of issues related to climate change drives
innovation studies to new directions, from solely supporting economic growth to
nding innovative technologies as responses to anthropogenic climate change, i.e.,
low-carbon technology (Geels 2004). Often, these novel low-carbon technologies
may initially have low performance or are more expensive and thus are not able to
compete with the existing or mainstream technologies. These technologies act as
incubation room”–called niches (Geels et al. 2018). Thus, through a complex and
lengthy innovation process, these technologies become impactful once they achieve
larger scales. Furthermore, the technological innovation is also linked with the
change not only in the business space, but also in the institutional and even the
cultural context as enabling factors (Cooke 2012). Here, barriers and challenges
remain in the deployment of low-carbon technologies, particularly in regard to the
energy sector in developing countries.
Although there has recently been remarkable progress in providing energy
services for poor and emerging countries, it is reported that 2.6 billion people still
live without clean cooking and approximately 950 million people still do not have
access to electricity. Specically, in Indonesia, as the focus of this chapter, about 9%
of the population fall below the poverty line (Badan Pusat Statistik 2018), with 30%
of the population still relying on traditional biomass fuels (IEA 2019a,b). Thus, the
world still remains short of the target of SDG No. 7 to provide clean and affordable
energy (IEA 2019a,b). Given the complex nature of this issue, there is a necessity to
address nearly all other SDGs. One of the reasons for slow adoption may be the
inadequate understanding of local cultures and their institutional capacities (Murphy
2001). It was studied that the cost of the technology is a more sensitive decisive
factor for low-income households, as opposed to, for instance, quality of the
technology (Takama et al. 2011). Thus, in terms of the affordability of clean energy,
an increase of the technologys cost leads to the reluctance of a pervasive adoption
(Takama et al. 2011). The lack of modern and clean energy access then induces the
use of unsustainable alternative fuels, such as rewood and kerosene, which are
responsible for deforestation and indoor air pollution that leads to GHG emissions
and premature death, respectively. Energy for cooking is still one of the largest forms
of energy consumptions in countries of the global south. For countries that rely on
rewood, most of the energy is used for cooking because of weaker industry and
transportation sectors as well as less demand on the heating in the house (Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Stockholm Environment Insti-
tute 2010).
In the last decade, there has been an increasing focus on low-carbon innovations
beyond the energy sector to address climate change as well as to meet the needs of
the low-income community. Indonesia has perceived adverse climate change
impacts in economic sectors such as agriculture, which cuts across energy and
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 3
food. Fluctuating rainfall and increased temperature have been affecting the agricul-
ture productivity, for example, rice paddy production in Bali (Takama et al. 2014).
This is far from the conventional narrative on how innovation was initiated in
industrialized countries and transferred to the restof the world. Many reports
indicate that innovations from emerging markets such as Brazil, India, and China are
focused on addressing negative environmental impacts. An example being the scale-
up of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, and biogas for households in China and
India (Spratt et al. 2014; Bond and Templeton 2011). Because of the importance of
improved energy services to poor communities, on the one hand, and the crucial role
of technological innovation in addressing climate change, on the other, this chapter
aims to better understand how innovation processes in poor communities differ from
industrialized countries in addressing climate change impacts.
Frugal eco-innovation presents an innovative way to address the challenges of
satisfying basic needs while mainstreaming climate change initiatives in rural areas.
Emerging countries, including Indonesia, are now responsible to reduce greenhouse
gases (GHGs) under the Paris agreement, requiring the government to balance their
development mandate with climate change policies. The concept of frugal
eco-innovation was introduced by Vilchez and de la Hiz (2018) to reduce negative
environmental impacts in resource-constraint areas in Europe. The frugality
appeared initially as a promising solution to tackle the poverty gap by providing
affordable products and services that employ minimal resources. This concept is
highlighted and later emphasized by the role of the interaction between private rms
in making change possible in a niche and the effort to create systemic change
(Prabhu 2017). Following the predecessor of frugal innovation concept, this chapter
applies the concept as an approach done by Prabhu (2017), rather than a specic
form of innovation. Meanwhile, eco-innovation serves the need of socio-institutional
change at the national level (top-down approach) while closely engaging their
consumers (bottom-up approach). This reduces the negative environmental impacts
on a larger scale. The study bringing together frugal eco-innovation is at the present
limited, particularly in emerging countries. Thus, this chapter is expected to better
understand how frugal eco-innovation could potentially accelerate the adoption of
low-carbon solutions in emerging markets to assist with meeting their NDC targets.
Within this chapter, the development and deployment of biogas digesters in
Indonesia is used as an example of a frugal eco-innovation in the energy sector,
focused on cooking applications. In order to describe the trajectory of frugal
eco-innovation in the case study, a framework of Alternative Pathways is applied
(Lieu et al. 2020). The path that leads to innovation is a conscious process initiated
by the rm innovator. It is one that recognizes the complex nature of innovation that
involves other stakeholders to bring larger scale of changes. Thus, Alternative
Pathways is used as an analytical framework to identify different narratives and
provide an empathetic understanding of the process of frugal eco-innovation in
potentially transforming the rural economy (i.e., energy-agriculture sector) in
Indonesia.
This chapter rst discusses the appropriateness of frugal eco-innovation by
describing the integrated characteristics of frugal eco-innovation that strengthen
4 C. Ismail et al.
the unique innovation of the case study. Subsequently, the importance of Alternative
Pathways is portrayed after introducing Indonesias context for the framework
application. In the third section, the Alternative Pathways framework narratives
conceptualize the energy options for rural households that lead to the introduction
of frugal eco-innovation. The narratives of the energy options are explored by using
the pathway classication proposed in the Alternative Pathways framework: a
mainstream pathway, on-stream and off-stream pathways, and a transformative
pathway. Finally, section four emphasizes opportunities of future application for
frugal eco-innovation that represent an alternative pathway. This represents the
potential for a wider transformation of the cooking energy sector in emerging
markets such as Indonesia, namely as a means to improve their capacity to address
climate change.
The Appropriateness of Frugal Eco-innovation to Describe
the Case Study
Initially, frugal innovation emerged as a promising solution to tackle resource
scarcities in low-income contexts by providing affordable products and services
for low-income people to meet their needs that were not attended to by regular
business (Numminen and Lund 2017; Albert 2019). Frugal innovation aimed to
reduce complexity and lower technology cost. One of the rst scholarly discussions
of frugal innovation was in a relatively small section of a book about economic
development strategy in India and China by Gupta and Wang (2008). Here, frugal
innovation was dened as: innovation that strives to create products, services,
processes, and business models that are frugal on three counts: frugal use of raw
materials, frugal impact on the environment, and extremely low cost.It was further
stressed that the rapid rise of emerging markets is the prime motivation behind the
critical need for all three types of frugality (Gupta and Wang 2008). This was
followed by substantive coverage in a special report by The Economist in 2010,
which described frugal innovation as not just a matter of exploiting cheap labor, it
is a matter of redesigning products and processes to cut out unnecessary costs
(Bhatti et al. 2018).
Scholars have dened the concept of frugal innovation in different ways. In 2012,
Navi Radjou coined a new term for frugal innovation in his book Jugaad Innova-
tion: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough growth(Radjou et al.
2012). Based on the Hindi word that means improvise x,Jugaad underlies
three principles of doing more with less: 1) keep things simple, 2) do not reinvent
the wheel, and 3) think and act horizontally; scale out instead of scale up. Here,
scaling up means to grow vertically, which is commonly referred to as institution-
alization, while scaling out takes current resources and replicates it to the other
regions (Pachico and Fujisaka 2004).
Despite having various denitions, Numminen and Lund (2017) attempted to
outline three main criteria for frugal innovation. First, the use of resources in the
concept of frugal innovation, such as raw materials, energy, and water, is conserved
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 5
or reduced. Product simplications could also lead to considerable energy and cost
savings, creating affordability. Resource efciency, substitution (with local and
sustainable materials and processes), and sufciency are described as part of the
ecological sustainability of frugal innovation (Albert 2019). Second, frugal technol-
ogies should be robust and durable, especially when products are used in remote or
resource-constrained areas. When the frugal product or service is placed in resource-
constrained areas, the needs of the locals are addressed through a product that is user-
friendly, accessible, and affordable. This includes accounting for the availability of
skills in the area to ensure consistent and stable maintenance by locals. Finally, the
frugality principle is also applied to energy usage, having modest energy output
levels that are monitored. Frugal innovation addresses issues in several sectors, such
as healthcare, water, energy, and communication (Bhatti et al. 2018). Focusing on
the energy sector, Numminen and Lund (2017) emphasized that frugal innovation
should contribute to create access to affordable and sustainable energy resources for
low-income and rising middle-income segments.
Due to its characteristics of frugality, the product or service of frugal innovation is
perceived as having a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional technologies
(Albert 2019). However, the concept of frugal innovation itself is not inherently
sustainable (Wohlfart et al. 2016; Weyrauch and Herstatt 2017), as reducing
resources does not directly translate into environmental protection (Rosca et al.
2018). For frugal innovation to be more in line with sustainability, Baud (2016)
suggested several conditions to be fullled: 1) Firms should commercialize afford-
able frugal products and services, 2) low-income actors should be engaged in value
chain activities, and 3) natural resources should be employed in a frugal manner.
Since the technology described in this chapter contributes directly to addressing
climate change, frugal innovation becomes an insufcient term to describe the
technology. Hence, the concept of eco-innovation is introduced.
The term eco-innovation (used interchangeably with sustainable innovation) has
been used in diverse contexts. The focus of this idea is on technological change that
contributes directly to reducing negative environmental impacts. In addition, when
developing eco-innovation, social considerations are highly prioritized (Rennings
2000; Cooke 2012). In addition, Carrillo-Hermosilla et al. (2009) proposed four
characteristics or dimensions of change in eco-innovation: design, user innovation,
product service, and governance. These characteristics of change have been used as
factors to determine the success or failure of an eco-innovation.
In the rst characteristic of eco-innovation, the change of design, integrating
environmental factors, becomes an emerging trend besides cost and protability.
This characteristic emphasizes how design dimensions can maximize positive
impacts on the environment. In frugal innovation, this is recognized as minimizing
negative environmental impacts by reducing excess resource use and implementing
user-friendliness for products in rural areas. To assess the impact of eco-innovation,
Carrillo-Hermosilla et al. (2009) further suggested three approaches of design
change: component addition, subsystem change, and system change:
6 C. Ismail et al.
1. Component addition refers to the development of additional components of the
technology or end-of-pipe technologies to curb the negative impacts of the
existing system on the environment, for example, carbon sequestration.
2. Subsystem change is dened as system performance improvements to reduce
negative impacts on the environment. This component is associated with
eco-efciency. This involves producing economically valuable goods and ser-
vices while reducing the ecological impacts of production (producing more with
less). Examples include efciency improvements in energy and water use.
3. System change refers to the redesigning of unsustainable systems by considering
the positive and negative impacts on the environment. These moves toward
making peace with the environment (biocompatibility) include, for example,
closed-cycle production through recycling.
The second characteristic of eco-innovation is user innovation, which emphasizes
a change in the behavior of individual users or organizations. The users play a key
role not only in applying innovations, but also in making improvements to the
innovative product or service. The role of users in improving the product or service
is observed using two components: (i) User Development, where innovation is
inspired from the usersideas, and (ii) User Acceptance, where behavior changes
are evident in adopting eco-innovation. The contribution of users in modifying or
improving a product or services determines the direction of the innovation, even
toward environmentally benign practices. On the other hand, the behavior change of
users could result in the acceleration of eco-innovation adoption in the socio-
technical system where the product and/or service evidently move to meet the
communitys basic needs. In some cases, change of behavior could be achieved
when a technology is proven to solve social issues or fulll social needs
(Wüstenhagen et al. 2007).
The third characteristic, product service of eco-innovation, calls for consideration
of overall business strategy and logic, including the convergence of supply chains.
To achieve radical change, product service innovation requires a rearrangement of
the product service concept which is developing sustainable business models. The
sustainable business model in question refers to a system of products, services,
supporting networks and infrastructure that is designed to be: competitive, satisfy
customer needs and have lower environmental impact than conventional business
models. An example is seen in Radjous (2012) frugal innovation concept, when
addressing the necessity for a less centralized supply chain that allows scalability.
The last characteristic, the governance change, is required to allow the
eco-innovation to persist in a much higher level of environmental and economic
performance when the prevailing socio-technical system of the innovation acts as a
barrier. Overcoming such pervasive barriers may require signicant governance
innovation both in the private and public sectors. The governance innovation for
eco-innovation refers to institutional and organizational solutions to resolve conicts
around the innovative environmental-friendly practices. From the innovatorspoint
of view, this dimension challenges the rm to improve its relationships with other
stakeholders, especially with the government.
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 7
In this chapter, the concept of eco-innovation does not only describe technolog-
ical development by improving the existing product to tackle environmental con-
cerns, but also incorporates social dimensions. For instance, the interaction of
stakeholders (e.g., users and government) could contribute to the technological
advancement toward system change or, in climate study, what is commonly known
as transformative pathways toward sustainability (Lieu et al. 2020). In addition,
embodying frugal innovation in the products (or services) sustainable development
is imperative in emerging countries due to well-being and resource constraints. To
merge the two complementary innovation concepts, this chapter applies the concept
of frugal eco-innovation to describe a biogas technology innovation in Indonesia.
The concept of frugal eco-innovation is introduced by Vilchez and Leyva de la Hiz
(2018), and it is dened as:
[...] ecologically sustainable business approach that strives to create products,
services and even productive processes that are easier to use, have a clear orientation
for reducing operational costs and decrease (and even eliminate) the negative impact
on the environment.
Based on the scholarly discussion above, Vilchez and Leyva de la Hiz (2018)
emphasize some core characteristics of frugal eco-innovation. First, frugal
eco-innovations focus on diminishing negative environmental impacts through
simple and efcient means. Second, frugal eco-innovations are designed to promote
the reuse, recycling, and revalorization of by-products. This means that the innova-
tion is easier to disassemble for recycling and reuse. Frugal eco-innovation also
promotes environmental-friendly business models for revalorization of by-products,
derivatives, and waste with the additional advantage of obtaining extra revenue.
Last, the cost of developing the innovation product or service is low.
The concept of frugal eco-innovation can be consolidated by integrating separate
characteristics of frugal innovation and eco-innovation, as well as the characteristics
suggested by Vilchez and Leyva de la Hiz (2018). Additional characteristics are
identied in Indonesias case study to provide further understanding about how the
impacts of a frugal eco-innovation could bring cascading effects to support eco-
nomic growth and tackle climate change issues. The additional characteristics
include inclusiveness and reusability, which can also be perceived as place-bound
characteristics. In terms of inclusiveness, the case study describes how a technology
aims to reach the needs of communities in remote areas, especially during the covid-
19 pandemic, when physical distancing is required. Reusability illustrates how the
case study technology addresses the limited resources of remote areas by providing
an easy-to-use and easy-to-remove technology that could be used for multiple
purposes. In sum, frugal eco-innovation, as dened in this chapter, should possess
the following core 11 key characteristics, including their indicators to measure the
change, as described in Fig. 1.
For the indicators of design and process development, as mentioned, the extant
potential technologies are assessed based on the indicators of design change: com-
ponent addition, subsystem change, and system change. In respect to frugal design
and manufacturing, the case study highlights the material and installation time to
demonstrate the frugality of the technology. To connect the design change in
8 C. Ismail et al.
technology and environmental impacts, this chapter also underlines the reusability of
the technology by looking at the element that can be used in other product variants or
for multiple purposes. In order to demonstrate the affordability for the low-income
community, the indicator of the technologys installation cost is used to compare the
extant technologies with the potential transformative technology (i.e., portable bio-
gas). Additionally, the change of product service explores how the innovator rms
design their business models in order to have lower environmental impacts as well as
to maintain and even improve the benets for users. The business model in question
could be, for example, value prepositions of the product or service offering to meet
the usersneeds in a sustainable way.
Given that rural and remote areastypically have limited access to knowledge
and resources, this chapter provides a measure on whether or not the technology ts
with local conditions (local appropriateness) by looking at the product lifespan and
the required technical skills. Moreover, the indicator used for inclusiveness is
accessibility. Accessibility emphasizes how the frugal eco-innovation should be
accessed by communities in rural regions that are poor and marginalized. Focusing
on the environmental benets, this chapter uses the GHG emission reduction as the
parameter to measure the impact of the innovation in addressing climate change.
Fig. 1 Characteristics and case study indicators for the evaluation of frugal eco-innovation
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 9
Furthermore, the characteristics of social well-being, change of behavior, and gov-
ernance change serve to demonstrate the impacts of frugal eco-innovation on a large
scale. The indicators of social well-being include direct user benets and gender
equality. Gender equality is included in addition to the primary benets because this
parameter is often underexplored, and the focused technology has evidently illus-
trated this issue. To observe the change of behavior, the value added by the
technologies is used as the indicator, because a technological innovation and its
clear potential to resolve relevant issues commonly lead to good acceptance of the
end users or wider adoption. Last, the benets of stakeholder engagement are
highlighted to illustrate the change of governance so that the frugal eco-innovation
has the potential to bring the impacts to a large scale, in this case by addressing
climate change.
Enacting the Potential of Frugal Eco-innovation
for the Transformation of Rural Energy System in Indonesia
Indonesia stands out as the largest economy in ASEAN as well as one of the top ten
greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters in the region, where the energy sector contributes
approximately 314 MtCO
2
e due to extensive use of fossil fuels. The country has
already pledged to reduce its carbon emission to 29% by 2030 to meet the Paris
Agreement. This indicates the increasing pressure on government spending allocated
to managing economic development while contributing to the global transitions
toward sustainable development. Many national reports have showcased the pro-
gressive adoption of clean energy in the recent years; however, the focus is on
electrication and often excluding the use of traditional biomass in the energy mix
(e.g., DEN 2019; MEMR 2019).
In response, there have been many clean cooking movements since the early
200 s, such as wood-pellet cookstove, biosynthetic gas, and biogas initiated by
private sectors working closely with local community in rural areas (Thoday et al.
2018). However, many of these technologies failed in the uptake process mainly due
to nancial and social factors, including heavy reliance on subsidies and a lack of
suitability. This led to the reluctance in adopting the clean technology from end
users, who perceived those technologies to be more expensive than conventional
energy. Among these technologies, biogas, the interest in this chapter, has been
recognized by the government as a suitable clean energy option in Indonesian rural
areas (Silaen et al. 2019a).
The socioeconomic benets of biogas for rural communities are evident and well
documented (Devisscher et al. 2017; Silaen et al. 2019a). However, the technology
uptake is relatively low and slow, where the installation of biogas in 2020 is reported
to have only met 5% of the installation target set by the country to contribute to its
NDC (489.8 Mm
3
by 2025) (Dilisusendi 2020). If biogas installations meet the
target, an emission reduction of approximately 391.8 MtCO
2
could be obtained,
simply from installing a 4-cubic size (Rumah Energi 2020a). This implies that biogas
potential is being overlooked by current policies. Biogas development in rural areas
10 C. Ismail et al.
is then perceived as a half-hearted movement within national GHG mitigation pro-
grams, particularly compared to other popular clean technologies such as solar PV
(Dilisusendi 2020). Furthermore, the policy environment often urges an ambitious
clean energy target with less understanding on the drivers of change in low-income
context, e.g., basic necessities. Hence, there is a misalignment in the strategies of
implementation. This indicates that the coevolution of institutions and technologies
is required to pursue sustainable development that ties with economic growth. Since
much of the Indonesian population still live under the poverty line and without clean
cooking energy, Indonesia becomes a hub for frugal eco-innovation that can trans-
form rural energy systems that are still dominated by unsustainable sources. With
wider acceptance of such innovation in rural areas, it is expected that the impact will
be global, i.e., taking action toward maintaining the temperature below 2 °C
(Creutzig et al., 2015).
Alternative Pathways Framework
In this chapter, the alternative pathways framework (see Fig. 1, see Lieu et al. 2020
for details) was used to explore the potential for frugal eco-innovations as niche
low-carbon technologies to potentially contribute to a sustainable transformation.
Here, transformation is dened by Roggema et al. (2012) as the capacity to transform
the stability landscape itself to create a fundamentally new system when ecological,
economic, or social structures make the existing system untenable. Niches are
dened as incubation rooms that protect novelties against the mainstream market
selection(Kemp et al. 1998). Here, the technology is a exible and portable biogas
digester currently codeveloped by su-re.co and farmers with the potential to disrupt
the current carbon-intensive biomass used for cooking in rural Indonesia. The
framework conceptualizes the three types of energy transition pathways for the
frugal eco-innovation biogas case study in Bali, including the mainstream and its
corresponding on-stream pathway, the off-stream pathway, and the transformative
pathway (as seen in Fig. 2).
The mainstream pathway represents the dominant energy system currently
followed by incumbent stakeholders. The on-stream transition pathway operates in
a niche space within the mainstream but does not disrupt the dominant, mainstream
fossil fuel energy sector. Policies within the on-stream pathway can promote niche
technologies that may bring out societal or environmental benets, as compared to
the current high-carbon sector. There are dedicated energy policies that promote
niche energy technologies by providing niche stakeholders with a more equal
playing eld in the energy system regime, through means such as energy subsidies.
Mainstream and on-stream pathways consist often of incumbent and dominant
stakeholders within the system who maintain positions of power in the energy
system and in respect to household decision-making processes that impact energy
choices. These stakeholders tend to represent the mainstream perspective, which can
include the ofcial government or policy stance, the largest and most inuential
institutions, and/or the largest market players in the system.
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 11
The off-stream transition pathway promotes niche low-carbon energy innovations
in a dedicated space that is separate from the mainstream technologies. Policies or
other programs are needed to create protective spaces for niche technologies and
stakeholders, which may potentially challenge the mainstream high-carbon technol-
ogies. Since niche technologies are outside the mainstream energy system, new
infrastructure may need to be developed. Often, these technologies have higher
barriers to entry, and breakthroughs could be supported through grants and subsidies.
Off-stream innovations also include innovations and innovators (niche stakeholders)
that might not be part of the mainstream regime. Therefore, stakeholder groups with
alternative perspectives, including women and other groups that are marginalized,
are often promoted in off-stream narratives. This dedicated space for alternative
perspectives can potentially be more inclusive than the on-stream pathways as it
recognized that women and groups traditionally marginalized have different and
important needs and priorities.
Transformative pathways involve radical technological innovations and a funda-
mentally new way of reorganizing the energy system. This new mainstream pathway
no longer resembles the previous mainstream system and may include a diversity of
stakeholders. A transformation could potentially stem from off-stream pathways and
lead to more just and sustainable decision-making processes. Transformation path-
ways are supported by diverse stakeholder groups and a range of policies, programs,
and actions that lead to change energy regime. This new energy regime is to be
dominated by a low-carbon and sustainable energy system, and its transformation
Fig. 2 Alternative pathways framework to analyze frugal eco-innovation for potential transforma-
tion. (Adapted from Lieu et al. 2020)
12 C. Ismail et al.
process could include a new network of stakeholders, including groups that have
historically been marginalized.
Narrative of Development and Deployment of Biogas
in Indonesia
Mainstream Pathway: Unsustainable Biomass and Kerosene
The mainstream narrative focuses on traditional biomass use for cooking. Firewood-
only households in rural Indonesia use approximately 153 kilograms of rewood per
month, as collecting it bears no direct cost and the resource is locally abundant
(Thoday et al. 2018). However, environmental and health risks of traditional biomass
fuels are evident. The use of traditional fuel such as rewood and crop residues is
responsible for deforestation and indoor air pollution that leads to GHG emissions
and premature death, respectively (Silaen et al. 2019b). However, these risks are not
fully realized by rural communities in Indonesia. Poor farmers do not care about
indoor air pollution as much compared to other groups (Takama et al. 2012). Each
year, there are approximately 165,000 premature deaths from illness attributable to
household air pollution that results from inefcient cooking practices and solid fuel
cook stoves (IRENA 2017; OECD 2019). In addition to the lack of awareness
around health risks, smallholder farmers do not perceive climate change as an
immediate threat to the sustainability of their activities. Furthermore, the risks of
energy-poverty, energy-related challenges, and health dangers are particularly
endured by rural women and children. This is due to cultural norms where women
and girls are responsible for collecting rewood as a means to support the man of
the family.
In addition to rewood, kerosene was once a part of the mainstream energy use as
a primary cooking fuel in Indonesian households for many decades. Kerosene
consumption was supported by the government through energy subsidies and was
a large state expenditure. To reduce the burden of the subsidy and reliance on this
costly fossil fuel, the Indonesian government introduced the Kerosene-to-LPG
Conversion Program in 2007. Although subsidy of LPG was more expensive than
kerosene when the program was introduced, LPG was cheaper than kerosene given
its higher caloric value (Thoday et al. 2018). As a result, the use of kerosene has
declined drastically in the last 10 years, though it does still have a signicant role in
certain areas of Eastern Indonesia such as in East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, and
Papua, due to limited knowledge and access of LPG (Thoday et al. 2018).
On-Stream Pathway: LPG
A small but growing space was carved in the mainstream pathway when the
Indonesian governments program of the Kerosene-to-LPG Conversion Program
was introduced. It has resulted in a vefold increase in the number of LPG users
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 13
since 2010, mainly in urban areas. In 2008, the government initiated the city natural
gas network program as a complementary program in order to reduce the reliance on
oil. Currently, the urban population has more options of primary energy for cooking,
including the electricity stove. In terms of environmental benets, the GHG emission
reductions due to this conversion program are estimated at approximately 31%
compared to the 2007 level. However, this number represents only a 5% emission
reduction from overall household cooking due to the major use of traditional
biomass. Furthermore, the impact of these programs has been limited in rural
households that are located far from the LPG distribution network, as around 40%
of the rural households in Bali rely on rewood (BPS Indonesia, 2018). This implies
that rural and remote households are unlikely to switch to modern fuels on a large
scale until an affordable option becomes available. Therefore, these households are
more likely to remain reliant on traditional biomass cooking energy for the foresee-
able future. This on-stream innovation and related policies did not consider the
diverse needs of end-users in urban and rural areas.
On the other hand, the use of LPG has seemingly been facing a challenging period
where the demand is growing while domestic supply is plummeting. In 2007, only
11% of LPG was imported. However, in 2018 imports reached 73% to meet the
increasing demand (Thoday et al. 2018; MEMR 2019). The subsidy for LPG was
seven trillion Indonesian rupiahs (ca. 500 million USD) in 2019. Currently, the
Indonesian government is seeking energy alternatives such as dimethyl ether (DME)
from coal gasication to be blended with LPG to reduce the reliance on imports of
this energy carrier. However, further assessment is needed to achieve full deploy-
ment due to challenges such as a more corrosive property of DME if this compound
is used for long term.
Based on the facts above, it is concluded that rewood, kerosene, and the
on-stream LPG niche technology cannot be considered as a frugal eco-innovation
option. Certainly not for rural areas of an emerging archipelagic state like Indonesia
given their affordability, environmental benets, reusability, and inclusiveness.
Although the use of LPG and kerosene evidently reduces indoor air pollution from
rewood use, they cannot be considered affordable given the current subsidies for
these products (Thoday et al. 2018), which becomes a burden to the state expendi-
ture. At the local level, a survey conducted under the World Bank Clean Stove
Initiative (CSI) reported that more than 50% Indonesian households use both LPG
and rewood for cooking on a regular basis. The ndings implied that, although
there are opportunities for clean cooking fuel, the baseline condition might not
change completely in the coming future (Durix et al. 2016). It can be seen that
these types of cooking fuels are highly dependent on subsidies and dominant in some
areas of Indonesia.
Off-Stream Pathway: Synthetic Gas, Wood Pellets, and Biogas
There are a few existing off-stream cooking energy technology pathways in Indo-
nesia with potential to replace the mainstream technologies: 1) synthetic gas
14 C. Ismail et al.
generator, 2) wood pellets, and 3) biogas. In the rst technology, synthetic gas
(generated by heating rewood instead of burning it) is promoted by a local
organization that makes turbines to generate electricity from the gas. This reduces
indoor house pollution and has the potential to make off-grid village electricity
systems which would be a perfect alternative for villages whose electricity is run by
diesel engines (Abdurrahman et al. 2018). The system appears to be sufciently
simple, and the cost could be as much as the conventional biogas digester. Although
synthetic gas uses rewood, it could still be considered as an eco-innovation if the
wood supply is managed sustainably. One issue includes the fact that organizations
implementing this technology are completely reliant on donations to promote cor-
porate social responsibility from private banks. Furthermore, although community-
based projects may be attractive in theory, they face implementation challenges as
the project requires knowledge-transfer, not only for technical operations, but also to
manage the system (Puzzolo et al. 2019).
The second potential off-stream pathway of wood pellets is pursued by a group in
West Bali and East Java. The pellets can be used to replace coal in power plants to
generate electricity at a large scale or, alternatively, used as a replacement for
rewood (Xian et al. 2015), potentially in conjunction with efcient rocket stoves
at the household level (Kotrba 2016). Since each pellet is small (ca. 5 mm), they can
be treated like a viscous liquid, hence controlling energy usage and heat is manage-
able. These pellets are made of Kaliandra, fast-growing trees that the government has
promoted in East Java and Madura Island. However, they are not being marketed for
domestic consumption, rather for exports to Asian and European market where
quality issues have arisen. Other pellets in Sweden are made of sawdust from dry
wood (a waste material), thus the quality of pellet is standardized. In comparison, the
pellet group of West Bali is grown from trees, cut and chopped into pellets, and
shipped abroad, which increases both economic and environmental costs (Puzzolo
et al. 2019).
The third off-stream pathway is biogas technology, which has been an emerging
technology as a clean cooking alternative and beyond. At the household level, biogas
can be generated by feeding manure, food, and crop waste into smaller digesters. It is
used as cooking fuel or for lighting lamps. Currently, biogas digesters installed in
Indonesia are dominated by the concrete-dome type, followed by the oating type
digester, whereas the PVC-type digester has low penetration (<1%) (Rumah Energi
2020b; Silaen et al. 2019a; su-re.co 2018). The cobenets of using biogas also
include reducing unmanaged rewood collection, helping manage animal waste,
alleviating food waste by repurposing food scraps, and providing biogas slurry
(bioslurry), to be used as organic fertilizer. These benets are suitable for small-
holder farmers as a part of the savings gained from reducing reliance on fossil-fuel-
based energy in rural areas (Silaen et al. 2019b).
In the early 2000s, multiple biogas programs with varying types and materials
were operated by the national and local governmental agency. However, many
digesters malfunctioned, and the program was halted due to lack of budget and
attention for maintenance. There were several other challenges to these digesters,
such as the fact that maintenance services and training for users were inadequate,
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 15
which resulted in many digesters going unused after installation due to the insuf-
cient skills of the locals. Another reason for the abandonment of biogas technology
was the fact that the wrong incentives were established by these programs, such as
full subsidies at the installation stage without consideration for maintenance (Silaen
et al. 2019a).
Furthermore, the nancing scheme of biogas has become more and more com-
plex. Due to the high cost of the xed-dome biogas system, a subsidy is needed.
Despite that, micronance is still needed as subsidies often do not sufce. Moreover,
to pay back the cost, some farmers need to sell organic fertilizer. In reality, it is
difcult to sell bioslurry, because farmers use it for themselves. Thus, without this
nancial scheme, xed-dome biogas digesters are still too expensive beyond the
scope of wealthy farmers (Devisscher et al. 2017). To address nancing and techni-
cal issues, the Indonesia Domestic Biogas program (IDBP), initiated by the non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) HIVOS and SNV, aimed to support the
governmental program in biogas development as an alternative clean cooking fuel.
HIVOS then established Rumah Energi to bring biogas back into the spotlight, and
the xed-dome biogas digester was selected to be deployed in different rural areas in
Indonesia, including Bali. Meanwhile, su-re.co (an environmental think-do-be-tank
based in Bali) developed a portable biogas digester. The project, beginning in 2016,
employed research and experiments in addition to integrating the feedback from the
farmers as their users. From farmer feedback, the material and dimension of the
digester evolved from using water tanks (polyethylene) to more durable materials,
and from 4m
3
to 1 m
3
. One cubic meter PVC (polymerizing vinyl chloride) digester
was then selected to address the technical and economical drawbacks of xed-dome
digesters.
To sustain these biogas projects, each organization employed different methods.
For one, Rumah Energi decided to apply a market-based approach (i.e., carbon credit
trading), involving corporate social responsibility and micronance by cooperating
with local banks to nance the IDBP program in addition to a participation fee from
the farmers to increase the ownership of the users (Devisscher et al. 2017). More-
over, the organization secured a local state-budget, working together with the Bali
Government to continue installing xed-dome biogas digesters to farmers through
SIMANTRIs program. However, Rumah Energi reported that 69% of the digesters
in Bali are malfunctioning due to mainly nontechnical issues (Rumah Energi 2020a).
Meanwhile, the portable digesters of su-re.co serve as a more easily transportable
household equipment that is less labor intensive and easier to install. Further, this
type of digester is installed aboveground, as Balis stable temperature, and does not
require the digester to be insulated under the soil (Silaen et al. 2019a; Silaen et al.
2019b). Moreover, the portable digester was codesigned with the farmers to tto
their needs. Factors considered were the daily cooking needs of a rural household,
and the farmersskills and capability to utilize and maintain the technology. The
frugality of the design allows for a cost reduction of up to 70%, as compared to the
xed-dome biogas digester. Not only that, but su-re.co applied different nancial
tools such as crowdfunding (CF) and cross-subsidization to unlock private funds.
The relatively new phenomenon of CF has been recognized among social enterprises
16 C. Ismail et al.
as a method to increase societal awareness and participation of social and environ-
mental issues. In this context, su-re.co successfully utilized this approach to expand
the biogas benets geographically. Meanwhile, cross-subsidization is applied by
putting aside a generous sales prot from the farmerscoffee and cocoa products, so
the continuation of the activity does not rely on subsidies or funding from govern-
ments. This kind of nancial instruments is different from the mainstream pathways
that are supported by the government and heavily dependent on subsidies.
Another aspect of the off-stream pathway looks at how policy engagement done
by niche innovator rms such as Rumah Energi and su-re.co could trigger a systemic
change to expand the societal benets of their innovation toward decarbonization.
For this, since 2012, Rumah Energi cooperated with Indonesian Ministry of Energy
and Mineral Resources (MEMR) to ensure the continuity of the program and the
reliability of technology and secure a local budget for biogas development
(Dilisusendi 2020). Simultaneously, su-re.co led a series of policy dialogues and
Climate Field School (CFS) for farmers alongside the Ministry of National Devel-
opment Planning (Bappenas). The goal here was to mainstream biogas development
as part of the national development agenda. This attempt then became fruitful when
Bappenas included biogas as part of the clean cooking fuel list in midterm national
plan (20202024). At the local level, su-re.co organized joint activities of climate
services, namely CFS for farmers with Indonesias Meteorological, Climatological,
and Geophysical Ofce (BMKG). In CFS, biogas is introduced to the farmers as a
solution for climate change. This activity led to the recognition of biogas as an act of
climate change mitigation by both BMKG and the farmers. Furthermore, the porta-
ble biogas has gained more acceptance than ever before, transcending its image as
just cooking fuel and being recognized as a climate service.
The changes in policy making and the nancial scheme in this off-stream
pathways disclose that there are emerging niche spaces present outside the main-
stream pathways of the cooking fuel sector. The nature of off-stream pathways
differed from the current mainstream regime that is exclusive and driven by
carbon-intensive fuels and subsidies.
Frugal Eco-innovation Elements as an off-Stream Pathway
Although all the mentioned off-stream technologies provide a low-carbon alternative
to fuels in mainstream pathways, they achieve different levels of success. Here,
frugal eco-innovation characteristics (as elaborated in sect. 2.2) are used to identify
technological innovation with its respective technical, socio-economic, and policy
approach to manifest a transformative pathway a future where the cooking fuel
sector is dominated by clean energy resources with socioeconomic sustainability.
These characteristics are used as concepts to elaborate the core reasons why the
portable digester has the most transformative potential, as depicted in Table 1.
Starting from the frugal characteristics, the biogas digestersfrugal design uses
affordable light weight material as opposed to concrete, cutting the manufacturing
costs signicantly to one-third of the xed dome technologiescosts. Despite the
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 17
Table 1 Comparing technologies in the alternative pathway in respect to the frugal eco-innovation characteristics (Blue ¼Frugal innovation, green ¼Eco-
innovation, gray ¼additional characteristics)
Characteristics Indicators Portable digester Fixed-dome digester Synthetic gas generator Wood pellets
Frugal design
and
manufacturing
Material PVC plastic and pipes Concrete Modied small
generator & rewood
Wood
Installation time 1 day 1 week 1 day 1 day
Affordability Cost (USD) 300 1000 1000
Local
appropriateness
Product lifespan 510 years 15 years ––
Technical skills required Minimal High High Minimal
Social Well-
being
Direct user benet Reduced indoor house
pollution, energy
Reduced indoor house
pollution, energy
Reduced indoor house
pollution, energy
Energy
Gender (in)equality in
household
Cocreation process
involves women in
design and
implementation of
biogas
New source of fuel
inuencing women and
mens role in household
activities
No visible /unknown
changes to women and
mens roles in
household
No visible /unknown
changes to women and
mens roles in
household
Design and
process
development
Component addition/
subsystem change/
system change
Subsystem change Subsystem change Subsystem change Subsystem change
18 C. Ismail et al.
Change of
behavior
Added value component
(in addition to its
primary purpose)
Organic fertilizer, waste
management, and
increasing social
cohesion
Organic fertilizer, waste
management, and
increasing social
cohesion
––
Environmental
benets
Reduced GHG (per unit) 124 kgCO
2
eq/year 2358 kgCO
2
eq/year ––
Change of
product service
Sustainable business
models
Self-sustaining nancial
system
Micronancing Subsidies
Governance
change
Stakeholder engagement Codesigned the
technology with the
locals
–––
Policy engagement Integrated biogas and
clean cooking stove to
national policy
Part of the governmental
initiative
––
Reusability Reusable parts Removable None None None
Inclusiveness Accessibility to hard-to-
reach communities
Full access Limited access Full access Full access
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 19
change in material and cost, which corresponds well to literature (Numminen and
Lund 2017; Radjou 2012), it is sufciently robust and durable, with a product
lifespan of 10 years. Thus it is still exceptionally appropriate for the users in rural
areas. This simplicity also comes with user-friendliness, where farmers can install
the digesters by themselves, which takes 1 day as opposed to 1 week (xed-dome
biogas digester). In addition, the aboveground design allows for easier maintenance
for the farmers. This product usability was highlighted in literature as an important
frugal innovation characteristic taking into account local skills (Numminen and
Lund 2017). One of the main reasons why farmers abandoned the xed-dome biogas
was their lack of capacity to x broken underground digesters (Silaen et al. 2019a).
Meanwhile, the synthetic gas generator is also not as user friendly, as it requires more
advanced technical and management training. In the end, the frugal design and
manufacturing of the portable digester itself holds more advantages in respect to
catering for local needs, which is important to enact fundamental bottom-up change
(Rosca et al. 2018).
With regard to eco-innovation, there are also several characteristics where the
portable digester stands out. In terms of design and development, all the technologies
fall under the category of subsystem change as they optimize existing technologies.
This intersects well with Radjous (2012) second frugal innovation criterion of not
reinventing the wheel. Moreover, compared to the other technologies, the biogas
digester seems to have other benets as it provides additional value on top of its
primary purpose. These additional benets that go beyond cooking fuel are evident
and well documented. This leads to the creation of new roles and behavior change of
certain stakeholders, particularly the users.
The biogas technology offers less time in collecting rewood, a common require-
ment in rural areas. It is commonly known that women in rural areas are responsible
for cooking, which includes collecting rewood. The reduced need to collect
rewood takes off one responsibility of women in the household, which would
allow them to spend their time and energy on other activities, such as educating their
children and pursuing economic and communal activities. This then increases the
participation of women in in the community. Taking into account this additional
time, the proposed solution was also designed to support added-value economic
activities such as roasting coffee beans or drying cocoa beans. This could improve
the value of farmersagriculture products, which further supports the farmers to
expand their income-generation activities beyond farming for (local) market sale
(Devisscher et al. 2017). Aside from providing gas, the digesters also produce
bioslurry as a by-product. Bioslurry was reported to be used by farmers as an organic
fertilizer for their own plants, and some were considering the option of selling it to
other farmers to generate additional income (Rumah Energi 2020a). The use of
bioslurry as fertilizer compared with commercial fertilizers was observed to increase
crop yields, since the slurry is rich in nutrients and much more cost-effective for
farmers, who considered commercial fertilizers expensive (Devisscher et al. 2017).
In turn, these digesters also reduce much more greenhouse gases from trapping
methane, reducing rewood harvesting, replacing synthetic fertilizers, and serving as
household waste management.
20 C. Ismail et al.
In correlation with the Covid-19 crisis, MEMR stated that there are four aspects
where national biogas programs are affected (Dilisusendi 2020). First, funding for
deploying biogas and other renewables is now allocated to handle COVID-19.
Second, health is put as a priority over energy, thus energy programs are postponed.
Third, with large-scale social distancing measures, technology providers are pro-
hibited to visit villages and install biogas digesters. Finally, the situation prevents
farmers from achieving their business targets from selling bioslurry in the micro-
nancing scheme. However, these limitations do not apply for the case for the
portable digester. The MEMR addressed the need for a solution that is easier and
faster to install and has an alternative funding method. The portable digester
resonates to this call, while also contributing to current health needs by improving
indoor air quality, and reduces the risks of respiratory-related illnesses. Women were
also the group that is most at risk of respiratory diseases from indoor house pollution
from utilizing cookstoves; thus, they receive the benets of improved sanitary living
conditions most. Moreover, with the nancial scheme su-re.co has (crowdfunding
and cross-subsidization), there are funds to continue installing digesters for the
foreseeable future. Running the portable digester program during a time of economic
crisis is also important for keeping up with longer term climate targets as well as
maintaining and/or creating job opportunities in the community, not only in
manufacturing the technology but also in supporting the auxiliary services such as
support capacity building in the long run.
Frugal Eco-innovation as Transformative Forces
A transformative pathway is developed from a potential technology that could bring
systemic change in rural areas. Drawing from the previous section, biogas is
recognized as the most sustainable resource for cooking fuel, particularly to boost
rural development in the range of available technologies. Various types of biogas
digesters have been developed to address technical and socioeconomic barriers of
biogas uptake, especially to substitute conventional digesters (i.e., xed dome
biogas). It is evident that the xed-dome biogas is not easy to install and operate
as well as too expensive for biogas advancement in rural areas. This then led to the
invention of the more affordable design of portable biogas digesters. Therefore, the
transformative pathway in this chapter includes a discussion of two main frugal
eco-innovation characteristics and additional ones that can bring systemic change in
rural Indonesia.
In terms of changes in the product services, the portable biogas is more affordable
and easier to operate. Next to the tangible aspect of the innovation, the nancial
innovation system cross-subsidization is applied to reduce the economic burdens
of the farmers. Coupled with crowdfunding, these methods collect sufcient funds to
self-sustain biogas advancement. In contrast, other technologies use micronancing
and subsidies to pay off the farmers debts, which is proven to be unreliable (Silaen
et al. 2019a). Such payment mechanisms are already avoided in the design process of
the portable digester, by minimizing initial costs. Thus, the portable digester has a
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 21
strong advantage in scaling up and out, because the supply chain can be
decentralized by replicating the technology in other regions (Radjou et al. 2012).
For instance, the frugality of the technological design and nancial innovation
allows full reach to remote communities, not only in Bali, but also in East Nusa
Tenggara in areas that barely have access to LPG and xed-dome biogas digesters.
The changes in product services then become particularly important during the
Covid-19 pandemic where social distancing is enforced. With the modular compact
system, no direct interaction is needed between the technological provider (su-re.co)
and the farmer, as the biogas can be sent to the farmers who then can install it by
themselves, with remote support from the su-re.co team. At the same time, while
governmental biogas projects are halted due to the reallocation of funds for covid-19,
the portable digester, funded by other means, can keep going.
Both the technological design and the self-nancing approach prove that social
businesses can simultaneously generate prot to sustain company projects while
serving the poor, which was an issue for existing rms that failed to fulll the needs
of both parties by deploying technologies that are nancially unsustainable (Dolan
2012;). Thus, this approach actually shows that social business can contribute to
long-term poverty alleviation by creating more efcient value chains, providing
more jobs by expanding the suppliers (Hahn 2012). Overall, this eco-innovation
characteristic shows that the nancing approach may allow the portable biogas to be
transformative, by the promotion of systemic change in the supply chain.
Outside innovative solutions, addressing global threats such as climate change
requires multilevel governance solutions. To transform the unsustainable main-
stream pathway, governance change is required between the innovation rms with
upper-level governance (i.e., government) and lower-level governance (i.e., users).
Such relationships should be established simultaneously, in which case innovation
rms are expected to serve as mediators. From a users perspective, Javier Carrillo-
Hermosilla et al. (2009) suggested that increasing awareness of the environmental
problems coupled with social inequalities and global economic challenges will lead
the society to realize the need to rearrange unsustainable systems and social behav-
ioral patterns. An example of this would be a developed market where the customers
are more concerned with environmental issues (Vilchez and Leyva de la Hiz 2018).
On the other hand, the lack of suitable eco-innovation models (best practices) in
emerging markets to inuence the users may pose a signicant barrier (Javier
Carrillo-Hermosilla et al. 2009). Therefore, the innovation rms should not only
recombine the knowledgebut also commercializeit to expand the societal and
environmental benets (Philip Cooke 2012).
su-re.cos portable digester becomes an exemplary case as it takes into account
the context of rural communities by involving end users during design development
process. At the same time, the process is coupled with governmental partnerships
such as policy dialogue and education through Climate Field Schools (CFS).
Through the policy dialogue, governmental bodies can understand the local solu-
tions so they can be aligned with their higher-level strategies, which in turn ensure
the ultimate goal toward sustainability and works to tackle climate change. CFS
evidently improved the lower-level governance, in which climate change was not a
22 C. Ismail et al.
driver for behavior change in rural communities, pushing them to adopt sustainable
solutions. Thus, after these activities, farmers gain an understanding of the impor-
tance of sustainable solutions such as biogas that have the potential to reduce their
climate vulnerability, while the government can achieve the development and GHG
reduction mandate from bottom-up solutions. In the end, the technology ts well
with the national agenda and has a direct impact on farmerslivelihoods. Therefore,
this eco-innovation characteristic sheds light on how the portable biogasimple-
mentation process supports all stakeholders of different levels involved, making it
possible to fundamentally change the whole societal system.
On top of the frugal eco-innovation characteristics, there are two characteristics
where the portable digester also stands out compared to other off-stream technolo-
gies reusability and inclusiveness. In terms of reusability, this portable digester can
be moved to other locations on the farm or easy dismantlement if any technical
issues are encountered. Additionally, if farmers do not utilize the digester, the
content can be emptied and potentially installed by another farmer. This minimizes
the resource and monetary loss from each biogas digester produced, where this issue
cannot be resolved by the xed-dome biogas. In addition to mitigation and adapta-
tion efforts, there has been increasing attention paid to addressing climate change
from human-based perspectives since SDG Agenda 2030. The slogan leave no one
behindbecame a good reason for su-re.co to eagerly reach farmers that are the
most vulnerable and the furthest behind rst,thanks to the frugal design. This is
coupled with multilevel governance changes then leads potentially to increasing
awareness and technology uptake. This kind of frugal eco-innovation would con-
tribute to SDG 2030 Agenda, SDG No. 7 that ensures universal access to affordable,
reliable, and modern energy services. However, given the extensive nature of the
technology, the portable digester would ultimately tackle other SDGs as well such as
4 and 10, by reducing gender inequality at community level and the gap between
urban and rural development.
In short, the frugal eco-innovation theories show that the portable digester, as an
off-stream innovation, holds promising potential to transform the cookstove sector in
rural Bali and potentially wider Indonesia, especially compared to the other tech-
nologies. Currently, the permanence and scalability of the portable biodigester in the
long run is yet to be seen, as the diffusion of the technology is still currently limited.
However, with its current trajectory and the proper policy support to scale up, it has
the potential to create a new normal regime, transforming the sector into a sustain-
able dynamic system in rural regions.
Conclusion
This chapter introduced frugal eco-innovation, a merge of two concepts with com-
plementary characteristics to illustrate how innovations can tackle economic growth
and climate change issues in developing countries. These characteristics range from
the design of the product itself to the process of introducing the design to various
stakeholders. Two more characteristics were identied based on the case study to
Frugal Eco-innovation for Addressing Climate Change in Emerging Countries:... 23
further show the additional benets of the portable digester in rural contexts. The
case study area, Bali, Indonesia, provides a success narrative on clean energy
development that could be benecial for other countries of similar backgrounds.
The rural energy agriculture system in Bali, Indonesia, constitutes different
energy sources to serve the need of the rural households. The alternative pathways
demonstrated the importance of the low- carbon technologies in niches that are often
underconsidered in the policy making process to contribute signicantly toward
decarbonization. The mainstream pathways of rural energy system are still domi-
nated by the unsustainable fuels, whereas low-carbon technologies are mainly in the
off-stream pathways that could potentially disrupt the mainstream technologies. In
this case, biogas digesters emerged as the most favorable low-carbon solution.
However, barriers and challenges remain that are slowing down the deployment of
low-carbon technologies. First, within the two governance levels, the lack of accep-
tance from local communities and lack of understanding of the off-stream technol-
ogies are there among policy makers. Second, funding barriers are commonly
encountered by the private sector to challenge the mainstream technologies that
are heavily subsidized and to sustain the continuation of projects.
Using the concepts of frugal eco-innovation sheds light on how a technology in
the Indonesian case study can potentially serve the aforementioned challenges.
There are two main frugal eco-innovation characteristics that may help innovator
rms bring wider impacts of off-stream technologies to address climate change
which are: the change of governance and the change in product and services. As a
starting point, engagement in the lower governance should happen in the design
process to fully take into account the needs and capacities of the local communities
involved and affected. Ultimately, this results in a design that is user-friendly and
affordable. Then, while educating the rural households about how the technology
can help meet their basic need, the social learning about climate change should be
instilled as a long-term education project and additional incentive. At the same time,
actively engaging the policy makers is imperative to address the nancial barriers
and slow pervasive adoption. Finally, having a self-sustaining business model is key
in scaling the technology so more areas can be reached. The absence of these
activities resulted the other off-stream technologies to fail in addressing said issues.
The Indonesian case study showed that the portable biogas digester, as an
example of frugal eco-innovation, has the potential to bring about systemic social,
economic, and environmental changes in rural areas. This case study also showed the
difculties and crucial roles of making a convincing low-carbon narrative by the
innovator rms. The pressure is on building local capacities and improving under-
standing at the national level adapted to the difculties of poor and rural populations.
Due to its frugality, such technology and approach have the powerful potential to be
applied to other regions that have similar challenges.
24 C. Ismail et al.
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