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2024 June 03

Pellet cookstoves – An affordable and sustainable modern solution for clean cooking

The paper “Pellet cookstoves – An affordable and sustainable modern solution for clean cooking” was published by the World Bioenergy Association to provide information on this clean cooking solution in light of the recent International Energy Agency’s Summit on Clean Cooking in Africa. 



In the debate on clean cooking, traditional cooking solutions such as open fire cooking or cooking in traditional charcoal stoves are contrasted to “transitional” solutions such as improved cookstoves for firewood or charcoal and “modern cooking solutions” such as LPG, electric cooking, ethanol cookstoves or biogas. This paper argues that pellet fired gasifying cookstoves should be considered as modern cooking solution that has particular advantages in terms of affordability, use of local resources and sustainability and given more attention when advocating clean cooking. 

Gasification technology allows pellet-fired cookstoves to achieve Tier 4 to Tier 5 levels of emissions and efficiencies of ISO voluntary performance standards making them a clean and highly efficient cooking solution. 

There is ample scientific evidence, that pellet cooking has particular advantages in terms of affordability. Taking into account the high efficiency of pellet cookstoves cooking costs are both lower compared to improved charcoal stoves and much cheaper than LPG cooking or electric cooking with few exceptions such as the use of electric pressure cookers. 

The International Energy Agency estimates in their Access for All scenario that USD 40-55 billion per year in subsidies would be needed to bring down the cost of LPG and electricity to affordable levels for all households that have switched by 2030. As pellet cooking does not need to be subsidized, building a pellet supply infrastructure can reduce the demand for subsidies significantly. 

The investment needed to build adequate pellet production capacities amounts to around USD 20 per person. A tier 4 electricity supply able to support cooking also in rural areas would require investments estimated at over USD 400 per person. The economic and social sustainability of a pellet based modern cooking system is underpinned by the fact, that no foreign exchange is needed for fuel imports and job loss in the traditional charcoal and firewood economy can be replaced by work associated to raw material supply to the pelleting plants, pellet production, packaging, distribution, stove manufacturing, and maintenance and even ash and char utilization. Significantly reduced safety hazards, short supply chains and independence of volatile global markets and disadvantageous exchange rates are other advantages. 

Finally, a sustainable cooking fuel supply needs to be based on renewable energy and should not lead to the emission of carbon from fossil fuel resources. Utilizing biomass residues that would otherwise be burned or landfilled as well as fast-growing grasses is an efficient and sustainable use of local and renewable resources that needs to be part of the energy system of the future.  

Access the report here