Renewable Energy

India’s clean cooking transition: Why development financial institutions play major role

Including clean cooking in their investment portfolios on ecosystem preservation will go a long way

By Maitreyi Karthik
Published: Thursday 22 September 2022

Improvising access to present clean cooking is necessary to achieve a multitude of objectives such as well-being of women and children, improvement in health and attaining climate goals. 

Inaccessibility to clean cooking fuels is among the indicators to measure multidimensional poverty in the National Multidimensional Poverty Index Baseline Report, which was launched by Niti Aayog in 2021.

The government made some interventions in the recent years to augment the publicising of clean cooking technology solutions: 

  1. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY): The scheme was launched in 2016 understanding the necessity for clean fuel. In the last 6 years, the initiative has been fruitful in increasing the use of LPG.
  2. Piped natural gas (PNG): The government has been actively promoting PNG, which is a more economically viable fuel than LNG. 
  3. Go Electric campaign: The Union ministry of power initiated the Go Electric campaign in February 2021 to encourage the use of electric vehicles and electric cooking. This initiative can help India save Rs 8 crore annually on import bills. Energy Efficiency Services Limited is working towards better utilisation of renewable energy in transportation and the cooking sector.

The Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas developed a solar cook stove called ‘Surya Nutan’ in June 2022 to lower the burden on gas consumption. It is a stationary, rechargeable and kitchen-based indoor solar cooking platform. 

The cooktop provides an online working option (using solar energy directly), thereby maximising the efficiency of the cooktop.

The solar cooktop works in hybrid mode, using both solar energy as well as an auxiliary energy source. This makes it a reliable option irrespective of the weather conditions.

Surya Nutan comes in three different models. The premium version can cook all types of meals for a family of four. The base model comes with a price of around Rs 12,000 and the top model costs around Rs 23,000.

LPG is the primary fuel source in more than 70 per cent of residential areas. The cost for a 14.2 kilogram LPG cylinder in 2021 was Rs 809. In 2022, it rose to Rs 1,003 (IOCL price) since the international crude prices have soared due to the Ukraine war. 

Tipping scales towards clean cooking

Earlier, clean cooking meant cheaper and enhanced cookstoves using biomass as a fuel source with improved efficiency. In the past decade, clean cooking has undergone a radical change with the availability of electrical cooking using energy-efficient appliances.

The transition from 100 per cent electrification of households to supplying reliable energy  along with non-conventional sources of energy will prove beneficial in lowering the carbon footprint of the country. 

The installed renewable energy capacity of India till August 2022 was around 116 gigawatts and recently, it had also updated its nationally determined commitments for reducing the emissions intensity of GDP to 45 per cent by 2030. It also aims to achieve 50 per cent of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030. 

In spite of this, there is still the availability of reserve power generating capacity as the demand growth did not exceed the anticipated limit.

Investments amounting to around $4.4 billion are required annually to increase clean cooking access, according to a global tracking report by SE4ALL, an international advocacy initiative for achieving United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals. 

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) of the World Bank has announced a $500 million clean cooking fund for assistance through technical support, study analysis and investments in developing nations. 

In India, this programme is being developed through the Modern Energy Cooking Services programme, which is a five-year United Kingdom aid-funded collaborative programme between researchers, policymakers and ESMAP for the uptake of clean cooking in Asia and Africa.

For the Indian market, the programme has collaborated with Finovista, an Indian independent organisation involved in clean cooking research, to distribute clean fuels for cooking. 

It’s primary focus is using electrical appliances for cooking and managing the offtake of e-cooking to consumers while balancing the load on the grid.

The Indian cooking sector is still dominated by LNG / PNG. New cutting-edge technological interventions (promoting economies of scale) are needed to pave the way for increased adoption of cleaner e-cooking methods. 

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