May 25, 2022, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

eCooking, and Clean Cooking for all !

Energy stored backup needs to be considered

The Nepal Weekly
January 25, 2022

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

Fossil fuel is one of the contributing factorsto global warming process that world leaders, climate experts and campaigners are realising. So as cooking in electricity is a motion taken up to go with the spirit to reduce climate change effects in the global scenario as well. Domestic air pollution in Nepal is another big problem that claims 22,700 lives every year in the country. Similarly Nepal pays a huge bill to import liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for use as cooking fuel. Thus cooking in electricity can be an important instrument for Nepal to take up as a sure shot remedy.

The Constitution of Nepal provisions citizens the right to live in a clean and healthy environment. The policies and programmes formulated by the government for promotion and development of clean cooking solutions are thus connected to the spirits of the Constitution as well. So as government has a target to have clean cooking in all Nepali households by 2030.

Cooking materials and technologies in Nepal is mostly conventional as biomass constitutes 69% as a cooking fuel in the rural areas in Nepal where firewood comprise 63%. Traditional biomass cookstoves are inefficient and produce toxic smoke. Furthermore, improved cookstoves installed 1.5 million so far have been naturally phased out due to their expected short life span. Similarly metallic improved cookestoves installed 103,000 or a little more also have been non-existed. A small portion of such ICSs may be expected as existing due to proper take care. Also to note that 450,000 domestic biogas plants have been constructed so far but a sizable portion of the said number is not in operation due to lack of livestock keeping, due lack of manpower and due to lack of repair and maintenance. On the other hand, bottled liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) usage is also rapidly increasing and is the main cooking fuel in 33.1% of Nepali households. In the latest scenario, availability of electricity in the country has contributed to increase number of electricity using residents for cooking.

Population of Nepal is 2,9192,480 persons. That is nearly 30 million. Moreover, the current basic facts and figures suggest average family size in Nepal as 4.32 persons per family. That means, currently there are 5,643,945 families (edited on 2022 January 26).

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) says that it had extended the national grid connections to 5.1 million household consumers. That includes consumers have electricity access of 5 amp, 15 amp and 30 amp capacity.  An independent source, in this regards, says that 65% of residential consumers are given 5 amp connections. Furthermore, grid connections have been reached to 93% of residences. Rest of 7% will be connected in 3 years to come. All 100% may not be connected with the national grid but mini-grids and isolated systems of Solar or wind or microhydro may be taken as alternatives for electricity to all household consumers.

The private and non-government professional organisations involved in research and studies in electric cooking experienced with evidences that residences with 5 amp connections can cook meal in induction cooker or infrared cooker. But, they have to stop use other facilities when they use available connection for cooking. That means if they are provided electricity by any other technologies e.g. Solar PV electricity with battery backup will benefit the consumers. So as the consumers can use electricity available through the national grid for cooking and alternative electricity through other renewable energy technologies for other than cooking use. That means 5.1 million residential consumers of NEA can go with electricity for cooking.

Well, if the given situation is worth to consider, what will be the amount of electricity needed at cooking time in the morning and in the evening ? Similarly, what will be the supply situation in the wet season and in the dry season ?In the meantime, this is an important matter to consider that Nepal is generating 2,070 Mega Watt of electricity presently as installed capacity to generate at full capacity in the wet season.

Furthermore, the hardware such ass conductors, transformers and other materials involved in transmission and distribution systems need to be upgraded to cope with the demand loads. Similarly, the in-house wiring of the users also need to be strengthened. The improvement will build confidence to the users on the power to be available anytime they need.

Easy availability of repair and maintenance of devices is another ‘pre-condition’ for electric cooking to grow to the desired limit.

Cooking in electricity has been a movement which can generate positive impacts in society and economy directly. But the limitations stated above are under taken to upgrade is in a too slow pace. Thus it may take a longer time for a large portion of population get accessible, available and affordable ecooking solutions.

When ecooking is well planned to be accessible, available and affordable, the users still need to have a stand by back up in two conditions. The condition one is power supply failure and condition two is breakage of device. So experts and professionals must work out studies on possible appropriate remedies of the stated two conditions.

The Mix Energy theory may be one other measure for electricity shortage to address for cooking in electricity. The Federal Government and Provincial Governments have to lend technical and financial capacity to local governments to install energy storage facilities in megawatt scale in their territories to support electric cooking to the residents of their territories. Solar PV plants or electricity spill in night hours may be the energy to store in the devices mentioned.    

Moreover, full utilisation of domestic size biogas plants should be seriously taken. So as smooth functioning of already constructed plants could be reinstated by repairing and retrofitting. Similarly the potential households need to be easily accessed to construction of biogas plants. The well thought biogas plants constructions can benefit to 1.1 million households including already constructed ones. That will be a huge portion to complement to electric cooking drive.