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Making the shift to advanced biomass cooking

According to the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), an estimated 2.8 billion people continue to lack access to clean cooking solutions. The vast majority are reliant on solid biomass fuels to meet their daily demands for cooking and heating. The challenge is for a paradigm shift to advanced biomass cooking – a challenge that the World Bioenergy Association (WBA) is keen to help address.

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The Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) “2021 Clean Cooking Industry Snapshot” report finds that over half of the investment capital, some US$153 million in the period 2017–2019, went to the LPG and biomass cookstove subsectors. Companies distributing LPG in primarily urban and peri-urban centers raised the most capital across the three-year period, accounting for one-quarter of the total raised. In the coming years, funding to LPG may remain restricted, as some funders continue to grapple with the dilemma of LPG being an important transition fuel for clean cooking while also being a non-renewable fuel (graphic courtesy CCA).

According to the Clean Cooking Alliance, an estimated 2.8 billion people continue to lack access to clean cooking solutions. The vast majority are reliant on solid biomass fuels such as charcoal and firewood used in open fires or inefficient stoves to meet their daily demands for cooking and heating.

This is causing significant negative environmental and health impacts, the latter particularly on women and children.

Shifting to advanced biomass cooking

While almost 100 million people gained access to clean cooking between 2015 and 2018, achieving universal access to clean cooking solutions by 2030 will require a major acceleration in the pace of change, the CCA report concludes.

The clean cooking industry is technologically diverse, however, biomass-based cooking is anticipated to remain the dominant source. The challenge is for a paradigm shift to advanced biomass cooking – to change both the fuel and cookstove technology to arrive at an environmentally sustainable, and affordable solution without adverse impacts to health.

According to the World Bioenergy Association (WBA), agricultural residues that are upgraded by pelletization, offer fuel with many advantages: sustainable supply, local value-added, low cost, climate-neutral, and easy to use.

Gasification cookstoves can use this fuel in a way that is two to three times as efficient as traditional cooking techniques and does not generate any smoke.

Therefore, the transition to advanced biomass cooking can make significant contributions to several United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including reducing poverty, improving health and the wellbeing of women, offering affordable clean energy while allowing for local economic development and protecting the climate by reducing deforestation and using a carbon-neutral fuel.

Key focal area of engagement

The WBA has selected advanced biomass cooking as a key focal area of engagement and has launched a Working Group on Advanced Biomass Cooking (ABC) that brings together actors from around the world engaged in Advanced Biomass Cooking.

Amongst other things, the ABC Working Group will host a webinar on February 10, the first in a series on advanced biomass cooking, focused on gasification cooking technology.

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