A woman cooking with biomass and an electric alternative in the background.

Loughborough University leads a UK aid programme to tackle climate change

Loughborough University and the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) joined forces in leading a UK aid research project to find innovative, clean and modern alternatives to biomass fuels, such as charcoal and wood.

A man cooking with an electric cooker.

An electric alternative to biomass fuel cooking.

Currently, over a third of the world’s population cook using these polluting fuels, leading to around four million premature deaths each year – primarily among women and children.

Using charcoal and wood to cook has a significant impact on climate change, contributing three per cent of the total CO2 emissions every year. The use of these biomass fuels, particularly charcoal, involves cutting and burning of wood sources, of which 34 per cent comes from unsustainable sources.

The partnership between Loughborough University and UK aid will find ways for two billion people to use electricity to cook at home in an affordable, reliable and sustainable way. It will also find solutions to provide clean cooking options for the one billion people that do not yet have access to electricity.

Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, said: "We cannot ignore the impact of using unsustainable wood and charcoal for home cooking because it contributes to climate change and harms people’s health.

"By using British expertise from world-leading UK research institutions and the private sector we can bring together the right technology, ideas and researchers to help tackle climate change and prevent millions of unnecessary deaths."

Thanks to UK government funding already awarded to the team Loughborough University and Gamos, a company working with the social factors of technology, have produced a series of stove prototypes. These include battery supported stoves that people can use even if they live off-grid or don’t have reliable access to electricity.

The £39.8 million programme, run by Loughborough University and ESMAP of the World Bank, will:

  • create a Challenge Fund, managed by the partners, for tech companies, research institutions and NGOs to apply for funding to invent alternatives to the use of traditional biomass fuels used in cooking. This fund will ask researchers to consider energy storage options, the impact on grid and infrastructure and alternative fuels such as LPG, ethanol and biogas all as possibilities for modern energy cooking services;
  • develop new technologies that make electric and gas cooking appliances more efficient, practical, desirable and affordable for poorer households;
  • work with the private sector to develop business models and financing methods that will help get electric and gas cooking appliances onto the market, such as the cooking pot developed by Loughborough University; and
  • provide evidence and insights on how and when countries can transition to modern energy cooking services.

Professor Ed Brown, National Co-Coordinator of the UK Low Carbon Energy for Development Network at Loughborough University, said: "For too long clean cooking has been the poor relation of the global clean energy sector, receiving less attention and funding than electricity access. Without a major change in direction, the global commitment to bringing clean modern cooking services to everyone by 2030 stands no chance of being met.

"With this programme, we intend to provoke a revolution in how the international community approaches this issue and significantly accelerate the progress being made in moving people away from cooking with biomass to really clean and modern energy cooking services."

Rohit Khanna, Program Manager for ESMAP in the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice, said: "Accelerating the transition to clean stoves and fuels requires a serious global effort to push the boundaries on innovative technologies and to mobilize unprecedented levels of public and private financing.

"ESMAP brings to this partnership a wealth of experience and lessons learned in promoting clean cooking solutions, drawing on the World Bank’s work in low income countries."

Loughborough University will also work with other UK research institutions such as The University of Birmingham, De Montfort University, Durham University, Gamos, The University of Liverpool, University College London, Newcastle University, University of Strathclyde, The University of Surrey and The University of Sussex.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/30

  • This partnership is working to achieve Global Goal 7 – ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
  • The five-year £39.8 million programme builds on previous DFID funded research on clean cooking.
  • Loughborough University is also involved in DFID’s Transforming Energy Access programme and is also being funded through the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) - a £65 million project funded by Innovate UK (via BEIS).

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