Webinar on Cooking Energy in Displacement Settings ( Q and A)

From energypedia

This page documents the questions that were asked during the Cooking Energy in Displacement Settings – Landscaping.

What do you see as a realistic daily cost for cooking in humanitarian settings?

Mark - GPA Coordination Unit: This will be country and context specific. In Tanzania, however, refugee households that were purchasing wood or charcoal in Nyarugusu Camp were spending approximately 12 USD per month on fuel (see page 23 of UNEP DTU report).

For the case of financing models what do you see as the realistic cost-of-capital that can be achieved in the different models?

Mark - GPA Coordination Unit: The use of private sector solutions in displacement settings is relatively new and obtaining lessons learnt from the use of financing models, other than free distribution from grant-based financing, is hard to come by. Especially when you consider that commercial confidentiality also impacts what information private sector partners are willing to share with the wider humanitarian community.

Judith - African Clean Energy: This largely depends on the context. In Uganda, where we operate, it is reasonable to assume that many displaced households are relatively settled in the same region as the host community, although they have lower levels of income. This means we can adapt existing financial models to include a more blended finance that provides opportunities for households to subsidise the cost of investment over time. We will continue to share our knowledge as we learn more in this sector.

How do you consider the risk factors of fuel such as LPG in these settings? Both from a perspective of explosions, logistics risks if not possible to distribute LPG for a extended period of time etc?

Mark - GPA Coordination Unit: Any cooking system should consider the distribution network and availability of the associated fuel during the design phase. Ideally the preferred solution would be based on a readily available fuel. Where there is a risk of interruption to the delivery of fuel, then stocking of the fuel to cover such periods should be considered. The transportation, storage, distribution and use of LPG should meet local regulatory requirements and safety standards. Quality standards must also be considered for the stove and cylinder. There are some safety tips in using LPG in humanitarian settings in Chapter 10 of this report, which was produced in association with UNHCR among others, and would reduce the risk of fire. Important considerations related to fire hazard are also linked to shelter and site planning, such as fire breaks which would restrict the impact of a fire, irrespective of how it started, and limit the explosion risk from cylinders.  Domestic and community preparedness should be in place from the start of the implementation such as awareness-raising activities and training, fire-fighting equipment available in strategic places, warning system to alert community member.

For solid fuels-based stoves do you see that HAP issues can be mitigated in a meaningful manner? If not, what is the expected health impacts from HAP compared to other health related aspects in these settings?

Judith - African Clean Energy: advanced (forced draft) cookstoves are certainly able to reduce HAP significantly. Although more research is needed to verify the results of interventions, the higher tier cooking solutions are on par with liquid fuels in reduction of HAP. It is important to note that different technologies have significantly different impacts, and solid fuels also vary hugely (from charcoal to sustainable processed fuels such as pellets). It is important to understand the difference in order to avoid villainising a whole industry or readily available resource.

How is UNHCR involving private sector actors? Most of the time, UNHCR working groups on energy only involve non-profit while private sector is key for clean cooking.

UNHCR acknowledges that it is crucial to involve the private sector to bring sustainable solutions. Ideally, this should be the local private sector as often they know best the context/challenges and what is needed to achieve sustainable change, bring solutions, support value chain set ups, how to attract investment and create jobs, etc. Because of the importance of partnerships and private sector engagement, UNHCR has an entire department dedicated to such matter, Private Sector Partnership (PSP) unit.

For UNHCR: How did you collaborate with the local government and stockholders with special focus on the accessibility and inclusion of the cooking appliance?

UNHCR plays its catalytic role within the energy sector, advocating for, and where possible facilitating, sustainable access to cooking energy in displacement settings. This includes supporting joint efforts between humanitarian, development and private actors to design, finance and implement cooking interventions in displacement settings, along with advocating for innovative financing mechanisms and simplified regulatory frameworks. UNHCR participates in CRRF policy related processes at national and regional levels by advocating for an enabling environment that allows for the economic inclusion of refugees and host communities. UNHCR also plays a sustained and strong role in advocacy with local authorities, development organizations, and the private sector, ensuring that a level playing field exists, and helping create the necessary enabling environment for the private sector to expand its services and investments in the region.

When the new ACE One is switched off remotely, what exactly is switched off? (the electricity supply by the panel or the battery?) Could people still use the stove even if the electricity is switched off?

The microprocessor on the electronics board has a count-down timer. This can be set to any length of time. In cases where monthly payments are made, for example, the timer may have ~30 days added every time a payment is made. The data required to add this time is passed through a smartphone app that communicates with our cloud based database. The electronics control all functionality of the ACE One, so this includes cooking, charging and lighting. The smartphone app notifies the end-user exactly how many days are remaining.

For Judith: as you mention moving away from charcoal you would still use biomass-based alternatives, right? So aside from socio-economic aspects, have you considered and given priority to the potential health impacts of these new devices as well?

With the right level of biomass gasification, the results on HAP are certainly comparable to any alternatives. Often this means some level of control over the fuel source as well, but even with the end-user using assorted found-fuels, the ACE One emits only negligible emissions. Our goal is to transition our users to the best solutions, meaning a combination of the right hardware, fuels and incentives need to be implemented. We are collaborating with various parties to research the effects on HAP and lung health, it’s definitely a priority.

What is the cost per month for a typical system, Ace one could be an example.

Our customers pay between $8-$12 per month until they have repaid their contract with us. This is often less than previous expenses. We’re working on ensuring the affordability of sustainable fuels available locally as well as blended finance models that allows customers to subsidise their repayments through specific actions such as referrals.

Ethiopia is one of the countries hosting the largest refugees in Africa and is ACE operates in Ethiopia. And when you talk about the sustainability aspect of biomass stoves. would you please elaborate on that?

We’re not currently operating in Ethiopia. Used in the correct way, biomass is an incredibly sustainable fuel source, and can be produced locally, rather than importing fuels and throwing off the local economy by being entirely dependent on imported energy. Biomass fuels can include waste streams from industry and agriculture. With the right hardware, it is possible to gasify uncarbonised fuels such as pellets and briquettes that can easily be produced locally.

Did you have a plan to extend your effort in Ethiopia? Is there any noticed challenge in Ethiopia?

We’re not currently planning to expand to Ethiopia, but it’s definitely a market with huge potential.