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In 2015 the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that 51% of developing Asia relies on traditional use of biomass for cooking. In Laos, biomass accounts for almost 70% of the nation’s total energy consumption, of which cooking takes the lion's share. Biomass continues to be a relevant renewable and sustainable energy source. Household gasifiers will play a crucial role in advancing the next stage of clean cooking because they convert biomass into clean gas, and they produce charcoal for private use.

From 12th – 14th September 2016, the Improved Cookstove Programme hosted a workshop in Vientiane for stakeholders including the Institute for Renewable Energy Promotion at the Ministry of Energy, and the Renewable Energy and New Materials Institute at the Ministry Science and Technology, the Association for Rural Mobilisation and Improvement and implementers of the Improved Cookstove Programme. The objective was to develop a locally produced gasifier prototype and review current testing procedures for cookstoves to meet global standards. The programme, which is implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Oxfam and ARMI, and funded by European Union (EU) Switch Asia Programme, has already sold 100,000 cookstoves in Laos and seeks to do more.

Christa Roth, founder of Food and Fuel Consultants, with extensive international experience with clean cookstoves and biomass fuels, and who facilitated the workshop says: “Biomass as cooking fuel is often looked on as backward, dirty and environmental unfriendly. On the contrary, when you use it in the right way with the correct technologies it is clean, sustainable and convenient to use.”

Gasifiers have benefits beyond those of regular cookstoves because they provide high heat, dramatically reduce smoke emissions and in the end, leave charcoal that can be used to roast meat on. Gasifiers reduce fuel expenses for households, reduce greenhouse gasses, and limit deforestation rates.

“If we can combine offering this innovative and affordable cookstove with the right fuel, we can bring about truly amazing results to the benefit of people, environment and economy. Pilot programmes with wood fuel residues are taking place in cooperation with a social and ecological responsible wood plantation Burapha”, Bastiaan Teune Sector Leader of SNV explains.

The highlight of the workshop, which was both practical and theoretical, was a successful prototype of a gasifier stove that perfectly meets local cooking demands saving time, fuel and smoke. The Improved Coosktove programme hopes to finalize work on the prototype that can be rolled out for production and distribution by the end of the year.

Find out more about the ICS programme and check out our project documents.

Expert

Bastiaan Teune

Energy Sector Leader