The future’s electric

Changing the world with energy access and clean cooking

Universal access to clean cooking is a key target under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), however approximately 2.4 billion people still rely on solid fuels such as wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.  

Indoor air pollution from these fuels causes up to four million premature deaths annually, including over 200,000 children under five, who are especially vulnerable to smoke exposure.

Recognising the need for new and innovative approaches to address this challenge, the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) have partnered with our researchers to lead this effort. 

Building on nearly a decade of leading research to address the sustainable energy challenge in the Global South, our UK Aid-funded Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme is breaking the business-as-usual programming of clean cooking interventions, delivering crucial research to accelerate the transition to clean cooking. 

A focus group in rural Zambia, exploring what value an electric pressure cooker might offer to their cooking
Courtesy of Nancy Serenje, CEEEZ

Our impact

Influencing policy and investment

  • Transformed the investment strategies of governments and investment banks in support of SDG7 - shifting focus from improved biomass cookstoves to modern clean energy alternatives.
  • Developed a Gold Standard verified methodology with ClimateCare, enabling projects supplying clean, energy-efficient cookers to use carbon finance to help fund their work.
  • Innovative financial programmes - including EnDev and Beyond The Grid Africa - are now incorporating concessional finance for electric cooking devices into their programmes
  • Policy work has supported a planned roll out of 50,000 energy efficient appliances in Nepal and the launch of a cooking tariff in Uganda.
  • Our pioneering eCookbooks package supports households, utility companies and policy-makers to make better informed decisions about energy and cooking
  • Launched the Global Electric Cooking Coalition (GeCCo) alongside global partners at COP28 to address the need to reduce carbon outputs generated by traditional cooking methods.

Driving market development

  • The MECS Challenge Fund has supported business investment in clean cooking technologies and solutions in the Global South.
  • Burn Kenya shifted focus to invest in manufacturing energy-efficient electric appliances at scale and expanding their premises to develop a dedicated production facility for electric pressure cookers.

Inspiring charities 

  • Our eCook project directly influenced the Clean Cooking Alliance’s global strategy for the sector
  • We convinced the US NGO CLASP of the case for electric cooking - the promotion of efficient electric cooking appliances is now a priority market-creation activity for them.
  • Dutch NGO Hivos were inspired by our focus on interdisciplinary work and gender equality to prioritise electric cooking.

The research

Our research is transforming the global narrative on clean cooking, showing that electric cooking can be an affordable solution to addressing SDG7’s commitment to universal access to modern energy cooking services.

We have developed sustainable models for addressing SDG7 which comprise new, holistic interdisciplinary contextual social energy systems approaches.

We have also demonstrated - for the first time - the possibility of global reach for modern energy cooking services, even amongst low-income populations in the Global South.

Key to these achievements has been our collaborations with local partners, who have steered our priorities and successfully implemented new initiatives on the ground.

This has enabled the University to develop new approaches to the building of effective and resilient research partnerships – including the STEER Centre, which houses the MECS programme, the UK Aid-funded Climate Compatible Growth programme, and a growing family of other innovative international collaborations and partnerships.

We hold advisory roles on highly influential platforms, including the World Bank’s Energy Storage Partnership, The World Health Organisation (WHO) Health and Energy Platform for Action and the United Nations multi-stakeholder Technical Advisory Group on SDG7.

Research funders

  • DECC
  • UKRI

Development partners

  • Clean Cooking Alliance

Meet the experts

Photograph of Ed Brown

Professor Ed Brown

Professor of Global Energy Challenges

Photograph of Simon Batchelor

Dr Simon Batchelor

Visiting Fellow in Energy and International Development

Photograph of Long Seng To

Dr Long Seng To

RA Eng Engineering for Development Research Fellow