With over 1.2 billion people, India is the world’s second most populous country. According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, about 67% of households out of this massive population rely on solid biomass fuels for preparing their food. That means about 166 million Indian households are burning unclean, inefficient fuels, exposing over 400 million people (90% of whom are women) to indoor air pollution and contributing significantly to global climate change, in part through the emission of black carbon.
It is therefore a natural next-step that PGI shift more of its focus to assisting India in embracing alcohol fuels. In 2013-2014, we supported a pilot study in partnership with CTxGREEN, sending out 15 ethanol-fueled cookstoves to the eastern state of Odisha to test the feasibility of small-scale, village-based ethanol production for cooking. With the information CTxGREEN gathered from this pilot study and the on-the-ground relationships we have been forming, we intend to expand our efforts in the country. There is great potential for ethanol as a replacement for traditional biomass fuels and kerosene throughout India, as well as tremendous need for this clean and viable alternative.
PGI is looking not only to ethanol, but also to methanol as a cooking fuel for India. India has a vast amount of feedstock available for making methanol fuel, including biomass waste, municipal solid waste, and low-grade brown coal (an ashy coal highly inefficient as a fuel in and of itself). The Indian government recognizes the potential for methanol fuel and the opportunity it presents for gaining energy independence and transforming low-grade feedstocks into convenient, clean-burning liquid fuel. While production of methanol from coal may not be as desirable as production from biomass or municipal solid waste, PGI sees the new interest in methanol as fuel as impetus for the switch to clean cooking fuels.
To this end, PGI will be traveling to Delhi in September to attend “India’s Leap into the Methanol Economy: Opportunities & Options for Energy Security”, an invitation-only international seminar hosted by the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI Aayog). There we will present on the role of alcohol fuels in cooking and the implications they have for human and environmental health. We are excited for the possibilities that are opening up for the use of cleaner fuels in India and are eager to play a role in the transformation of India’s energy consumption as it turns a greener and healthier leaf.
Check out our project page on India to learn more about our work there, and please visit our donate page to find out how you can help. India is serious about embracing clean energy technologies and we want to help them to do so by showing the way to clean cooking with alcohol fuels.
By Ellie Rice