- 11th April 2022
Tuesday 12th April, 2022; Time 8.30am to 4.30pm
Venue: Kathmandu Marriott Hotel, Naxal, Nepal.
MECS Electric Cooking Outreach (ECO) National Workshop
MECS organised a workshop on 12 April 2022 to present the findings from the first large-scale, evidence-based research on electric cooking in Nepal.
The workshop aimed to inform policymakers and investors on the opportunities and challenges for scaling up eCooking in Nepal based on the MECS research findings. Participants included representatives from key stakeholder groups in the Nepali electricity and clean cooking sectors, including the Government (National Planning Commission, Nepal Electricity Authority, Ministry of Energy, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre), development agencies, the private sector, academia, media, and other sectoral experts.
MECS and Electric Cooking in Nepal
Nepal is a key priority country for MECS, and the policy environment in Nepal is highly favourable for eCooking. The Government of Nepal has adopted an integrated electrification-clean cooking approach, targeting universal electrification by 2022 and 25% of households using electricity as their primary cooking fuel by 2030. However, currently, only 0.4% of households use electricity as a primary cooking fuel despite 95% having electricity access and the eCooking appliance market growing rapidly since 2018 (Nepal Ministry of Finance 2021).
To achieve national electric cooking targets and unlock the considerable potential in Nepal to transition to electric cooking, detailed understanding is required not only of economic implications but also the suitability of electric cooking for people’s everyday cooking practices and local electricity systems. To this end, Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS), a five-year programme under UK Aid (FCDO), launched the Electric Cooking Outreach (ECO).
ECO Pilot Studies and Key Findings
Under ECO, four 6-month electric cooking (eCooking) pilot studies with over 300 households were carried out by Winrock International, Practical Action Consulting, People, Energy & Environment Development Association (PEEDA) and Integrated Research & Action for Development (IRADe). Funded by the Electric Cooking Outreach (ECO) challenge fund run by Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS), a five-year programme under UK Aid (FCDO), the pilot studies investigated whether eCooking fits local cooking practices and the electricity supply in Nepal. The overall aim was to provide a crucial evidence base to inform policy on the current opportunities to scale up eCooking and support the Government of Nepal’s development goals for “green, resilient and inclusive development”. The results were highly encouraging: people from various cultural and socio-economic groups in both grid and off-grid locations all consistentlychoose to cook with electricity. Key findings were:
- The uptake of eCooking was rapid and sustained in each pilot study. On average, usage increased from almost 0% to over 30% of all cooking events.
- eCooking led to large falls in cooking with fossil fuels (LPG, firewood), showing how eCooking can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make a major contribution to Nepal’s NDC targets to climate change. Reducing firewood use also offers major health, social, economic, and environmental benefits. Lower LPG use reduces reliance on imported LPG, improving Nepal’s energy security and trade deficit.
- User experience of eCooking was overwhelmingly positive, with the convenience, and time and cost savings especially praised. Cooking with efficient electric appliances like electric pressure cookers (EPCs) was less than half the cost of LPG and firewood.
- To enable eCooking to expand further, a more reliable power supply and local after sales services are required. Local suppliers and repair and maintenance services are needed to ensure consumers do not lose confidence in eCooking, which, in turn, should create local economic and job opportunities.
Pooja Sharma, Energy Theme Lead for ECO partner, Practical Action Nepal, stressed the significance of these findings:
“Now is the time for taking a bold action. Let’s take full advantage of electricity access and technology advancement – evidences, data, information from our research will definitely support in accelerating low carbon sustainable development by adopting Electric Cooking solutions”.
MECS and the Clean Cooking Challenge
Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) is a five-year programme funded by UK aid (FCDO) which aims to spark a revolution through rapidly accelerating the transition from biomass to clean cooking on a global scale. By integrating modern energy cooking services into energy planning, MECS hopes to leverage investment in renewable energy (particularly in electricity access, both grid and off-grid) to address the clean cooking challenge. Modern energy cooking is tier 5 clean cooking, and therefore MECS also supports new innovations in other relevant cooking fuels such as biogas, LPG (bio) and ethanol. The intended outcome is a market-ready range of innovations (technology and business models) which lead to improved choices of affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy cooking services for consumers. We seek to have the MECS principles adopted in the SDG 7.1 global tracking framework and hope that participating countries will incorporate modern energy cooking services in energy policies and planning.
MECS ECO Project Locations in Nepal
Featured image, top: Participant cooking vegetable curry on an electric pressure cooker at her house in Briti Prastoka village (Ward no. 3, Katahariya Municipality, Rautahat) (image credit: Winrock International, 2021).