Tackling health and environmental challenges through Clean Cooking Fuels


Quick Summary

This article is setting up the case for clean cooking policy to tackle indoor air pollution and especially the use of biogas digesters. The different points discussed are:

  • The case for clean cooking
  • Biogas digesters potential
  • Smart biogas technology and carbon monitoring.

To find out more about biogas digesters that could help scale up clean cooking, sign up for the upcoming webinar on Wednesday 04 May at 2 pm BST. Do register HERE


Moving towards a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030, as defined by the SDGs, requires us to tackle the biggest global challenges: Poverty, Disease and Climate Change of course.

Although not evenly distributed, every single one of these problems is already causing distress across the World. So, imagine what it feels like to experience all of them simultaneously?  What does it feel like to have to go through that silently – without grabbing the headlines?

This is the condition many people face in their everyday lives and yet it still does not attract enough attention. We see one particular source that causes all three of the issues to coincide: Indoor Air pollution.

The case for Clean Cooking

Across the world, more than 3 billion people, most of whom live in Asia, Africa, and the Americas cook their meals on an indoor open fire. They are meeting their everyday cooking energy needs from solid fuels, namely wood, crop wastes, dung, charcoal, etc. Reliance on these more polluting fuels has led to several serious and interrelated health and environmental challenges. Effectively, this exposure to household air pollution from burning these fuels is estimated to account for approximately 3 million premature deaths a year.

According to World Health Organization, while socio-economic development over the last 30–40 years has resulted in relatively lower percentages of people using these fuels, the actual increases in population has meant that the absolute number of people relying on them has not drastically changed. More than ever action is needed now and clean cooking offers a path to a solution.

inclusive E - Tackling health and environmental challenges through Clean Cooking Fuels
Carbon dioxide fumes from solid fuel cooking entering the atmosphere

Biogas digester potential

A number of fuels such have liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), biogas, compressed biomass fuels have been promoted as potential solutions to alleviate much of this global burden.

A technology that is undergoing a new lease of life in recent times is biogas. Biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced during the digestion of organic matter in the absence of oxygen which can be collected, piped, and lit for cooking or lighting. Suitable organic materials include food and agricultural waste, animal manure, human waste and other sources of biomass mixed with water. Biogas has a long history, but is showing renewed potential in Asia and Africa. In the context of rising global fossil fuel prices, the idea of using renewable and circular fuels is very appealing.

Recently we spoke to Vijay Bhopal, the CEO of Inclusive Energy, and asked him to share his story of working in the rapidly changing biogas market. Vijay recently visited in the state of Bihar, India, to see a project that his company has been working on alongside a well know Dairy Cooperative there. Thousands of farmers in that region provide milk and organic fertiliser (bioslurry) to Sudha dairy, the state milk cooperative.

Biogas is a win-win for the farmers and the cooperative. Sudha pays for the digester on behalf of the farmer and then takes the first 14,000 worth of bioslurry for free. Every 10 days, Sudha visits farmers to pick up the bioslurry, measures it for various parameters and pays between 0.5 and 1 rupee per litre depending on the quality.

Smart Biogas and carbon monitoring

One of the key problems to address to fully realised the benefits of biogas is an urgent need to prevent breakdowns and malfunctions. Over 40% of the household biogas digesters surveyed in Sub-Saharan Africa have faults. The Inclusive Energy Smart Biogas aims to tackle this issue with an by remotely monitoring digesters and sending eh data to an easy to use software platform for biogas installers to monitor and react to.

Vijay explained that biogas is thus far a mainly non-digitised market. The opportunities for using remote monitoring to understand user behaviour, manage operations, remote fault diagnosis, conducting pay as you go financing etc are all in their very infancy. He expects a tremendous amount of innovation in the sector over the next 5 years.

Another aspect of this that is worth noting is that digital tools can also be used for Carbon monitoring. It is traditionally known carbon reduction projects require extensive baseline surveying and annual Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV). Until now carbon projects in the biogas sector have had to do these arduous processes without the benefit for remote monitoring and digital processes. This requires consultants to go to the field to manually check installations and carry out interviews. Inclusive Energy is currently working on an initiative which aims to digitise as much of this process. The 6-month project which started in March is being piloted with the help Kenya Biogas Program and Biogas Solutions Uganda.

We like biogas and where things are going. So we’re running a webinar to jump into more detail. Vijay will join us too.

To find out about biogas, Smart Biogas’ capabilities and the setup of this cutting-edge carbon experiment, do make sure to register for our incoming webinar scheduled for Wednesday 04 May at 2pm BST. 

Scaling-up clean cooking overall is crucial for tackling the 3 main challenges emphasized above and provide the keys to accelerate sustainable sector growth around the globe.


  • Report: “An analysis of efforts to scale up clean household energy for cooking around the world”, Science Direct.
  • TedX Talk: Saving lives through clean cookstoves, Ethan Kay
  • TedX Talk: Biogas Digesters in Africa – A “10X” Opportunity, Jason Clay
  • Clean Cooking Alliance: https://cleancooking.org/

Click HERE to join the webinar.


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