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Improved Cooking Stove (ICS) in Nepal

Original author: Manish Pakhrin

Edited by: Matheus Soares Costa


Nepal is a small landlocked and highly geographically diverse country with the total area of 147,181 square kilometers. The forest area makes up 44.74 % of the total area. About 70% of population lives in country sides with about 64% using firewood as the main source for cooking and heating purposes. Burning the firewood traditionally in the stove (chulo) increases the excessive material consumption, leads to indoor air pollution and prolonged time for preparing food. To address these important aspects (economy, consumer’s health and environment) effectively, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) was established in November 3, 1996 under the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of Nepal. The primary objectives focuses on the promotion of the bio-based energy and other renewable source of energy like water, wind and sun. Furthermore, efficient use of bio-mass for energy production in household or small to medium industrial scale by introducing feasible way of improved cooking stoves (ICS) was given priority. However, the concept of ICS was already introduced back to the early 1950s.

The design of ICS is very simple structure made out of clay, stone or metal tripods and a pipe for the smoke outlet as shown in figure below. Materials are locally available which eventually reduces the installation cost. The cost may range from few hundred to several thousand of Nepali currency. The gain in thermal efficiency is about 25% to that of traditional chulo which has less than 15%, and it result in reduction of about 50% wood consumption. The indoor air pollution caused by the traditional way of using firewood in the kitchen was dramatically reduced by30 - 50%. Cooking time period was also significantly reduced by over 40%. Overall, greenhouse gas like carbon-dioxide emission decreased by approximately 2.5 tons per year per stove. In order to increase the efficiency, more advance design of stoves like metal, rocket stoves are being introduced in different period of times.


                        Figure: schematic diagram of typical ICS



The government is planning to install 3 million ICS’s for targeted households by 2030, 1.3 million ICS’S were installed by the end of 2017, i.e. almost half way of the target. It is becoming increasingly popular specifically in rural part of the country. It is distributed over 2,655 Village Development Committees, 33 municipalities, and 63 districts. The country’s geography plays an important role in the supply and demand chain, therefore, effecting the market trends.




                      Graph: Number of ICS installation (note: 2075/2076=2019)


Policy Measures

In various time-frame, the policies have been made and keep on upgrading according to the situation of the country to any way make a better life of countrymen. Some of the recent years policies are highlighted below.

Biomass Energy Strategy 2017: Government have been exercising to contribute to increase the access to clean cooking technologies for all Nepalese households through the means of modern biomass energy. 

Renewable Energy Subsidy Policy 2016: Providing 50% of the total cost of the materials and installation. In addition to that, some extra amounts depending on the regions of the country.

Forest Policy 2015: Backbone for community based, lease holder, and private forest owners by providing credits and insurances for cultivating and promoting nurseries or any kind of bioenergy productions. There is huge import duty reductions for bioenergy equipment.

Effects of the Measures

In the beginning, the results were not as expected, because, of some technical failures, lack of expertise and promotions, subsidy policies, public awareness and for some other reason. But, policies and consumer’s behavior have been changed in during these years, which is a reason to see a neat success in the near future.

Though the aggregate of many thousand household’s wood savings is still in small quantity, but during long run, it will make a significant contribution to achieving a sustainable energy, greenhouse gas emission control, public health quality and ultimately the economic growth of the country.

In my opinion, the program seems to be almost successful. It is not just about counting the numbers, but a sense of awareness.  


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