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Ph. D. Thesis information

Accelerating the implementation of electric cooking in low- and middle- income countries

Eduardo Sánchez Jacob

Supervised by J. Lumbreras, I.J. Pérez-Arriaga

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Madrid (Spain)

February 14th, 2022


The number of people without access to affordable, reliable and modern energy cooking services (MECS) was around 4 billion in 2019, more than half of the world's population, and the consequences of the lack of MECS are significant. In 2019, 2.31 million people died prematurely as a result of Household Air Pollution (HAP) associated with cookstoves, 4 per cent of all deaths worldwide. The gathering of firewood and charcoal in an unsustainable manner exacerbates deforestation problems and contributes to climate change. Women often bear a greater burden in terms of collecting firewood, cooking and cleaning, and they are more affected by HAP. Sustainable Development Goal 7, approved by the United Nations in 2015, seeks to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. However, progress on access to MECS is very slow, and given the current policies and commitments, the number of people without clean cooking facilities will be reduced by less than 10% by 2030. A radical change in the coming years is imperative to meet the desired goal. Cooking with electricity (eCooking) has advanced in Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMIC) from being 3% of the total cooking in 2000 (140 million) to 7% in 2019 (450 million), but it is still far from realising its potential and nearing the figures of developed countries (e.g., 70% in Spain). The main objective of this thesis is to accelerate the transition to eCooking in LMICs providing comprehensive information about electric cooking and a methodology, tested in a case study, to foster the deployment of these technologies through electrification planning. The eCooking transition will occur by progressively replacing existing cooking systems, even with a coexistence for some time several in some households. To know what information is needed to address the eCooking transition in a comprehensive way and ascertain its impacts, Chapter 2 analyses the main cooking systems and how they have been conceptualised, describing in detail the eCooking options, reviewing the main impacts and their measurement, analysing common cooking practices, and concluding with a proposal for allocating cooking tasks to obtain an efficient cooking. Electrification planning is critical for the achievement of eCooking and electricity access, because eCooking increases significantly the demand of low-income households with low electricity consumption. Planning is also necessary because eCooking would compete with other technologies, in cost, convenience, and health and environmental impacts. Although geospatial electrification models have a long trajectory in the literature, their use for MECS is at an incipient stage. Chapter 3 develops the specific case of the electrification of Nyagatare District, in Rwanda to know how the eCooking demand for electrification planning should be modelled and what the impacts of incorporating eCooking in the electrification of areas not yet electrified would be. Once the context has been presented, the methodology for establishing possible scenarios, demand profiles, cost analysis and estimation of impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation are carried out using the Reference Electrification Model (REM), a geospatial electrification planning tool. Cooking transition is affected by many factors, such as public policy, market and industry development, availability of alternative fuels, physical settings, household affordability, cookers’ needs or perceptions. Chapter 4 analyses the factors that have influenced many cooking transitions processes and identifies a set of measures to promote the eCooking transition. As a result of the research, it can be noted that cooking impacts are highly contextual and depend on many boundary variables; therefore, extrapolating data between different contexts risks generating high levels of error. In many cases, fieldwork is required to obtain reliable data. The Nyagatare District case study indicates that the methodology developed provides useful information to assist decision-makers. The hypothetical penetration of electric cooking would substantially change the fraction of households electrified with each electrification mode and lead to a reduction in the electricity cost. Electric cooking can be cost-competitive compared to Liquified Petrol Gas for grid-connected households. Even more, replacing firewood and charcoal with electricity for cooking is an effective means of achieving GHG emission reductions. Fifty-seven measures have been identified to promote e-cooking to protect the environment, to support the industry structure and services, and to meet user and community needs. The document concludes by proposing future research with a view to facilitating estimation of cooking impacts through rapid surveys, completing the Reference Electrification Model (REM) with a model for fuels that compete with electricity and customer’s needs and preferences, as well as carrying out several national case studies to measure the feasibility, impact and cost-benefit of the measures identified.

E. Sánchez-Jacob (2022), Accelerating the implementation of electric cooking in low- and middle- income countries. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Madrid (Spain).

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