Thermal Insulation in High Mountainous Regions

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High mountainous regions with long, cold winters face an additional challenge, because most of the energy is used for heating rather than for cooking. With a warm winter room being a crucial livelihood asset, households spend a high percentage of their financial and time budget to acquire fuel for heating. Under such conditions, thermal insulation is considered to be the priority measure to reduce the loss of heat and the consumption of biomass fuel[1].

Despite this high relevance of heating and thermal insulation it has not been adequately addressed in the field of development cooperation. A lot of information and experience about technical solutions, institutionalisation, and market approaches are available in developed countries. In contrast little experience and knowledge are available on appropriate solutions for developing countries, especially for rural regions with "non-standardized" housing. However, worldwide exist several approaches on housing improvements and dissemination approaches, which are affordable, acceptable and accessible solutions in developing countries.

A Case Study on Ecological and socioeconomic Impacts in the Eastern Pamirs, Tajikistan

As in many other high mountainous regions, local people in the Eastern Pamirs (Tajikistan) use biomass fuels, mainly teresken shrubs, to heat their houses during the winter months. This overuse of already scarce natural resources results in serious land degradation.

How to solve the intertwined problems of land degradation and energy supply in Murgab has been a much-discussed question both in the academic and in the development cooperation community. However, this discussion mostly focuses on the energy supply side, i.e. on the substitution of teresken shrubs with other energy sources. The provision of subsidized coal is practiced by the Tajik state on a small scale, but it is not a sustainable solution because it requires continuous funding from the outside.

Less attention has been paid to the demand side and to reducing the consumption of heating energy. Generally solutions like the thermal insulation of houses and the increased efficiency of heating stoves are well known, but they are not easy to realize in a remote region like Murgab. The case study "Thermal Insulation in High Mountainous Regions" analyzes the impacts of thermal insulation in Murgab, the main town in the Eastern Pamirs, where thermal insulation measures have been implemented in 159 households since 2008. Although clients are more interested in increased comfort than in fuel savings, according to quantitative data collected in 2010 and 2011, thermal insulation measures led to a 20% - 30% savings in heating energy on average. However, it is mainly better-off households that are aware of energy efficiency issues and willing to invest in thermal insulation. In contrast, poorer households are the main teresken users, but they rarely have their houses insulated due to a lack of awareness and a low ability to repay loans. Therefore, the approach to introducing thermal insulation has only had a small effect on teresken consumption until now.

-> More Information about the case study: BioOne Online Journal

-> More Information about Tajikistan: Tajikistan Energy Situation

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A Case Study of Ecological and Socioeconomic Impacts in the Eastern Pamirs, Tajikistan. Christoph Wiedemann, Stefan Salzmann, Iftikhor Mirshakarov, and Heike Volkmer.

  1. Sjoerd Nienhuys (n.k.): Assessing the energy consumption patterns with respective solution valuation in Badakhshan/ Afghanistan: Energy, insulation and cook stove improvement in Badakhshan