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Modelling the costs and benefits of modern energy cooking services—methods and case studies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Chris Mullen, Dr Neal WadeORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Globally, 2.8 billion people still cook with biomass, resulting in health, environmental, and social challenges; electric cooking is a key option for a transition to modern energy cooking services. However, electric cooking is assumed to be too expensive, grids can be unreliable and the connection capacity of mini-grids and solar home systems is widely assumed to be insufficient. Developments in higher performance and lower cost batteries and solar photovoltaics can help, but they raise questions of affordability and environmental impacts. The range of issues is wide, and existing studies do not capture them coherently. A new suite of models is outlined that represents the technical, economic, human, and environmental benefits and impacts of delivering electric cooking services, with a life-cycle perspective. This paper represents the first time this diverse range of approaches has been brought together. The paper illustrates their use through combined application to case studies for transitions of households from traditional fuels to electric cooking: for urban grid-connected households in Zambia; for mini-grid connected households in Tanzania; and for off-grid households in Kenya. The results show that electric cooking can be cost-effective, and they demonstrate overall reductions in human and ecological impacts but point out potential impact ‘hotspots’. The network analysis shows that electric cooking can be accommodated to a significant extent on existing grids, due partly to diversity effects in the nature and timing of cooking practices.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leach M, Mullen C, Lee J, Soltowski B, Wade N, Galloway S, Coley W, Keddar S, Scott N, Batchelor S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Energies

Year: 2021

Volume: 14

Issue: 12

Online publication date: 08/06/2021

Acceptance date: 04/06/2021

Date deposited: 28/06/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1996-1073

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/en14123371


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