Impacts of Renewable Energy on Gender in Rural Communities of North-West China

Citation:

Ding, Wenguang, Lijun Wang, Baoyu Chen, Luan Xu, and Haoxu Li. 2014. “Impacts of Renewable Energy on Gender in Rural Communities of North-West China.” Renewable Energy 69: 180–9.

Authors: Wenguang Ding, Lijun Wang, Baoyu Chen, Luan Xu, Haoxu Li

Abstract:

This investigation compares the traditional energy structure with improved energy structures, and evaluates the impact of renewable energy on gender relations in rural communities in north-west China. The traditional energy consumption structure in rural communities in north-west China was based on biomass and coal. However, the improved energy consumption structures consist of renewable energy based on solar energy cookers, biogas digesters and energy saving stoves. Compared with traditional biomass-based energy consumption, renewable energy could significantly improve energy use efficiency and alter women's labour intensity, health status, living standards and even men's share of some cooking tasks. The field investigation data revealed that: women are free from having to collect firewood after integration use of renewable energy including biogas digesters, energy saving biomass stoves and solar energy cookers; the frequency of firewood collection, firewood collection quantity, time spent in firewood collection and human energy consumption of women have greatly decreased when traditional energy consumption structures are improved; using biogas can daily save 50% of cooking time for women; 91% of women use surplus funds from energy saving to buy clothes and cosmetics products; 3.1% of them enjoy travelling; and also use of clean energy devices can further reduce the risk of women exposed to indoor smoke pollution, and hence prevent women from possibly getting respiratory diseases. Therefore, it can be concluded that: gender is an important aspect of energy, which has previously been ignored by many researchers; gender does matter in the area of access to, ways of use, opportunities and control over energy; energy and women are linked in many diverse ways; technology change can drive cultural change; appropriate policies are needed to encourage technology up-take.

Keywords: energy structure, renewable energy, gender, rural community, China

Topics: Environment, Gender, Health, Infrastructure, Energy, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2014

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