A clean cooking strategy:driving towards sustainability(Hindu summary-12th July 2018)

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A clean cooking strategy:driving towards sustainability

The Hindu


  • Need of better cooking fuel choices in India to ensure sustainability.
  • As India takes a long-term view on sustainability and energy security, it is important to create an environment where its citizens are aware of the options and make their energy choices based on the nature of the fuel and not because of socio-economic constraints.

Why cooking fuel?

  • It is one of the key indicator of living standards across the world
  • Affordable, reliable and clean energy for cooking is essential not only for reducing health and environmental impacts but also helping women to do more productive work and developing the rural economy.
  • It affects woman living in both rural and urban areas
  • On an average in India, household spending on cooking fuel accounts for around 5-6% of its total expenditure.

Factors that affect choice of cooking fuel:

  1. availability and easy access
  2. household income
  3. price of fuel
  4. education and awareness
  5. culture or lifestyle
  6. government policies

Comparison among various cooking fuel options:

The various cooking fuel options are:

  • Firewood,
  • pellet,
  • biogas,
  • kerosene,
  • liquefied petroleum gas or LPG,
  • piped natural gas or PNG
Firewood Pillet Biogas LPG PNG Kerosene
Highly polluting High polluting Clean gas Clean gas Moderate cleaner Moderate cleaner
Oldest form Pellets can be made from any one of five general categories of biomass: industrial waste and co-products, food waste, agricultural residues, energy crops, and virgin lumber.

Wood pellets are the most common type of pellet fuel and are generally made from compacted sawdust

Biogas is a gaseous mixture generated during anearobic digestion processes using waste water, solid waste (e.g. at landfills), organic waste, and other sources of biomass Also referred to as simply propane or butane, are flammable mixtures of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles. Natural gas piped to homes directly. Presently popular in India.


Oldest traditional form like fire wood
Asia is the region with the highest production of wood fuels Pellets conforming to the norms commonly used in Europe China is the biggest biogas producer in the world, with around 18 million farm households using biogas and about 3,500 medium to large-scale digester units   Developed countries are already leading in this concept Found mostly in Indian rural areas due to cheap cost
Households using wood in an open fire experience particulate matter (PM) concentrations of over 3000μg/m3 in the air compared to households using charcoal stoves, which are only exposed to PM concentrations of around 500μg/m3 Emissions such as NOx, SOx and volatile organic compounds from pellet burning equipment are in general very low in comparison to other forms of combustion heating.

There is a high emission of fine particulate matter to the air, especially in urban areas

Most of the biogas has a methane component of 50 to 60%, a CO2 component of 35 to 50%, and a relatively small amount of hydrogensulfide (H2S) and ammonia.   Low carbon emissions except chance of pipe leakage and oil well burning Moderate emissions of carbon
Compared to charcoal, the production of firewood contributes less to deforestation and degradation. There is uncertainty to what degree making heat or electricity by burning wood pellets contributes to global climate change, as well as how the impact on climate compares to the impact of using competing sources of heat. Less contribution to Green gas emissions i.e. all the by products are used for energy conversions It is increasingly used as an aerosol propellant and a refrigerant, replacing chlorofluorocarbons in an effort to reduce damage to the ozone layer. When specifically used as a vehicle fuel it is often referred to as auto gas. When oil well burning leads to huge release of Carbon emissions or else  moderately clean Lower and cheap version of fossil fuels.
The drier the firewood, the less energy is required to evaporate the water, thus the more energy is available for heating or cooking purposes. More energy available due to low moisture content. More clean energy available for multiple purposes LPG is considered immediately dangerous to life and health (due solely to safety considerations pertaining to risk of explosion) High energy availability Low energy availability

Programs initiated:

The National Project on Biogas Development (NPBD), 1980
  • hampered by mala fide practices,
  •  poor construction material,
  •  a lack of maintenance,
  •  misrepresentation of achievements and
  • a lack of accountability and follow-up services
Objective is promotion and production of Bio gas
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana,2016
  • Consumption-based subsidy is not available for biogas and PNG. So many people opting for LPG.
  • LPG import will hamper other development programs.
Target of providing LPG connections to more than eight crore families and access to clean energy


What to be done?

  1. adopting the service-based enterprise model with suitable resource availability offers a sustainable approach like in Hoshiarpur, Punjab
  2. there is a need to provide financial support and facilitate capacity building in order to promote enterprise-based models for community-level plants.
  3. PNG needs to be promoted in urban areas beginning with the densely populated Tier-I and Tier-II/III cities
  4. Making LPG just as option but not as a choice because of huge LPG imports
  5. enable a consumer to freely make cooking fuel choices, consumption-based subsidies need to be replaced with a functional subsidy that is provided on the basis of household income levels and local variables.
  6. Possibility of leakages must also be eliminated by ensuring that subsidies of any kind are provided only through direct benefit transfer.


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