|Total savings :||60 tons of CO₂ per year, potential for 3000 tons of CO₂ (approx. 3 tons per household per year)|
|Technology transfer :||Modern electric cooking equipment for rural households|
|Local environment :||Conservation of forests through reduced biomass demand|
|Further advantages :||Prevention of respiratory diseases by avoiding indoor air pollution during cooking, time and money savings for households|
|Project partners :||Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (MEGA), Mulanje Rural Electrification Agency (MuREA), University of Strathclyde|
About 10% of the Malawian population is connected to the national power grid, in rural areas it is only about 2%. In places that the national power grid does not reach, power is sometimes provided by local mini-grids. This is the case in Mulanje Province, at the foot of the mountain massif of the same name, where the Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (MEGA) operates a mini-grid with several micro-hydroelectric power plants. Over 1000 households have already gained access to electricity through this mini-grid.
The electricity connection has enabled households to replace their paraffin and disposable battery lamps, but the majority of people still cook with firewood or charcoal on a three-stone fire. This is partly due to habit, but also to the fact that high-quality electric cooking equipment is expensive and difficult to access in rural areas.
In this pilot project, 20 households that have a reliable power supply through the mini-grid are testing electric cooking with a clean cooking set subsidised by atmosfair. This set consists of a high-quality 1500W hotplate, the heat retention device Wonderbox, and suitable pots. The latter are important, as for cooking on open fire it is common to use pots with a rounded bottom, which are unsuitable for cooking on an electric hotplate.
The mini-grid’s low electricity tariff of only 0.07 euros per kilowatt hour makes cooking with electricity financially competitive with purchased fuels such as charcoal. For those households that used to collect firewood, electric cooking can free up lot of time, which can now be used for income-generating activities. Moreover, cooking with electricity prevents respiratory tract infections, a common consequence of indoor air pollution occurring when cooking inside with biomass. Lower respiratory tract infections are among the most common causes of death in Malawi. Since in Malawian households it is mainly women and children who are responsible for collecting firewood and cooking, they are the ones most exposed to these negative effects.
The pilot project aims to verify the acceptance of electric cooking in rural households and to demonstrate the feasibility of this exemplary technology transfer. The pilot project is also scientifically accompanied by researchers from the University of Strathclyde under UK Aid’s Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme. User surveys will help to better understand under which conditions electric cooking is accepted and how atmosfair can create these conditions. Following the pilot project, the distribution of electric hotplates will be further rolled out – in Mulanje and other regions of Malawi. The target of the first scale-up phase will be to give access to electric cooking to 500-1000 households.
Our partners in Malawi are the mini-grid operator Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (MEGA) and Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency (MuREA), who supports local communities and small enterprises to promote efficient use of energy resources. The project is also scientifically supported by the University of Strathclyde, which conducts research on modern cooking in Malawi as part of the MECS programme.