A breath of fresh air
Smoke from open fires contributes to the death of more than four million people every year around the globe. We’re working with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to foster the adoption of clean cookstoves and fuel in 100 million homes by 2020.
Cleaner air for the poorest homes
Around four million people die every year from pollution caused by their only means of household cooking - an open fire. The deaths are a result of three billion people across Africa, Asia and Latin America cooking in their homes using wood, charcoal and even animal dung as fuel. Open fires producing soot and greenhouse gases damage the health of families - especially women and children – but also the environment. Searching for fuels also uses up valuable time that could be spent earning a better living or attending school.
But bright ideas are aiming to change all that. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a unique initiative working to create a self-sufficient global market for cleaner and more efficient stoves for cooking and heating by supporting local entrepreneurs and stimulating demand for cleaner cooking solutions. It also aims to raise awareness of the ways these stoves can reduce fuel use, cooking time and loss of life.
Since 2010, Shell has committed $13 million to help the Alliance reach their goal of clean cookstoves in 100 million homes by 2020.
Next to that global partnership, the Shell Foundation, an independent charity set up to tackle global development challenges, joined forces with Envirofit International to design and produce cleaner-burning stoves. Not only are the Envirofit stoves more affordable, but they can cut cooking times by 50%, reduce smoke and toxic emissions by up to 80% and use up to 60% less fuel than traditional stoves. This allows many users to cover the cost of the stove – typically between $15 and $30 – within a few months just through the fuel they save. Now that, we think, is truly a breath of fresh air.
Wired - cookstove in use
Shell Film 1 – Full version transcript
The magnitude of the number of individuals who are reliant on solid fuel for cooking was increasing, in fact we now have 3 billion people who are reliant on solid fuels for their cooking needs. And now we have over 4 million people every year who die from exposure to cookstove smoke.
The Global Alliance for Cookstoves was launched in 2010 and we had 19 founding partners and we are very pleased to have Shell as well as the Shell Foundation an independent charity.
The idea is to be able to, number 1: Raise awareness about this issue. Number 2: Addressing this issue you can reap positive health benefits, environmental benefits, benefits for woman and very direct livelihood and income benefits as well.
What we do is really try and facilitate choice for the end user, by supporting different enterprises and organizations so that they can produce stoves and fuels at scale to serve the needs of the population,
We realized we needed to create the Spark Fund, to be able support both additional capital to scale up these enterprises but also to use some of that funding to further strengthen the individual businesses.
It wasn’t a surprise to me that Shell came up and said ‘This is something we truly believe in, it supports enterprises, it supports the ability to grow those enterprises and to provide choice for consumers.’
Living in a city like New York, there’s energy everywhere. There’s gas coming out of the walls to cook with, there’s electricity to run our lights and charge our phones. It’s really not hard to find. But for half the planet, finding energy is incredibly difficult.
Biolite is a personal scale energy company. Primarily we focus our work on the three billion people around the world who live in energy poverty without access to clean fuels or stoves for cooking and electricity for charging mobile devices and lighting their homes. We realized that half the planet was still cooking on smoky open fires, so Biolite uses advanced technologies that use forced air that gets pushed into the fire in a way that essentially re-burns the smoke particles within the fire. And the way that we power those fans is by borrowing a small fraction of the thermal energy from the fire and converting it into electricity using a tech called thermoelectrics which are solid states semi-conductor devices, I always liken them to solar panels for heat instead of light.
Together that energy can then power these fans that reduce the emissions.
We think there’s a tremendous amount of synergy between these various forms of energy – just take a look at our stoves right? They are able to convert the chemical potential energy in sticks into both heat and electricity. And all that energy is there, we just needed the right tools to make it useful in the formats we needed it in. And we think that’s true across the energy spectrum, whether its cooking, charging, lighting, refrigeration, clean water – these are all things that are enables by energy.
Through the Global Alliance and it’s support from Shell, Biolite was a recipient of a Spark Fund award and it was through grants like the Spark Fund that we have been able to refine the model by which we bring products to our end customers.