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New Report: Clean, Affordable and Sustainable Cooking Energy for India
20 Feb 2015

CEEW's latest study 'Clean, Affordable and Sustainable Cooking Energy for India: Possibilities and Realities beyond LPG' analyses potential alternate cooking options, going beyond LPG. The options which were assessed include the centrally distributed commodities like LPG, PNG, electricity and the decentralised options such as biogas and improved biomass cookstoves. A multi-criteria comparative analysis was conducted, incorporating various dimensions such as economics, fuel supply assurance, technology resilience, cooking convenience, environmental impacts, etc. The analysis utilised the existing wealth of literature and secondary data, while tapping into the knowledge and experience of technology experts through online surveys and interviews. The key findings from the analysis are:

  • On the economic front, biogas emerged as the most attractive option, along with PNG, while LPG and pellet based cookstoves were among the costliest. One major finding on economic front was regarding improved cookstoves which largely perceived to be the most economical solution due to 'free-of-cost' biomass. However, NSS data over the years suggests that more than 70% of biomass consumed in rural households is commercially procured and thus carries a real cost, apart from the notional cost associated even with the free-of-cost biomass.
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  • In terms of health improvements due to indoor air pollution, all technologies fared well, except improved cookstoves, which still need substantial technological improvements to reduce emissions to safe levels. However, a major finding on health benefit font is that unless there is a complete transition to cleaner cooking option both at household level as well as at the community level, the entire health benefits of clean cooking would not be realised.
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  • On assurance of fuel supply front, which also pertains to energy security at national level, traditional biomass was marked with the highest fuel supply assurance, followed by PNG, biogas, LPG and lastly the electricity based solutions.
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  • For convenience of cooking, which incorporated multiple sub-attributes influencing the overall cooking experience, the balance was tilted in the favour of gaseous fuel based options due to their improved heat control, higher heat intensities, accommodation to variety of cooking needs and so on. Thus, LPG and PNG were rated highly, along with biogas, followed by electricity based solutions. Improved cookstoves were deemed as least convenient among the considered options.
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  • In terms of technology resilience, biogas and improved cookstoves both fared low, whereas the LPG and PNG solutions were rated as highly resilient. Electricity based cooking solutions received the mediocre place.
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  • Next, considering the global environmental impacts, i.e. climate forcing, all the clean cooking energy technologies were evaluated as better than the traditional chulha. This is mainly due to avoidance of high emissions of black carbon resulting from incomplete combustion in traditional stoves. Improved cookstoves were the best, as only non-CO2 emissions were considered, assuming sustainable harvesting. Next was biogas, followed by PNG and LPG. Electricity based solutions had the highest impact due to predominantly thermal generation mix of India.

Read: Clean, Affordable and Sustainable Cooking Energy for India: Possibilities and Realities beyond LPG

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CEEW’s Fact of the day...
In India, around 74 million rural households lack access to modern lighting services and a larger proportion of the population (around 840 million) continue to be dependent on traditional biomass energy sources
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