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Jun 2021 Release — Paris, France

Towards Clean and Sustainable Cooking: The Outlook for Electric Cooking in Morocco

As part of a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 811145, the International Energy Agency has been investigating the feasibility of electric cooking in Morocco as a possible way to reduce the reliance on butane and on traditional biomass. The motivations for the study included providing and strengthening access to clean cooking to households currently relying, fully or partially, on biomass for cooking, to both improve living standards and reduce deforestation, and secondly, to reduce the overall consumption of butane to lower subsidy and import bills.

In collaboration with the Modern Energy Cooking Services Programme (MECS), cooking trials were undertaken to assess the suitability of electric pressure cookers (EPCs) for cooking typical Moroccan dishes, and preliminary assessments were carried out for the impacts on cooking costs, household bills, electricity grids, CO2 emissions and subsidy bills. These impacts were assessed considering three household types: i) urban grid-connected households relying 100% on butane for their cooking needs ii) rural grid-connected households that use a combination of butane and firewood and iii) rural off-grid households that rely on firewood for cooking (as well as space and water heating).

The findings of the preliminary trials have demonstrated that:

  • Some of the most commonly cooked dishes such as meat and/or vegetable stews (such as tagines) and soups are very well suited for cooking in an EPC, providing significant time, energy and cost savings.
  • These dishes cooked in an EPC were rated highly on taste and cooking experience by the participants of the cooking trials.
  • The EPCs did not provide such positive results when trialled on dishes involving quick frying or a high degree of temperature control (such as omelettes).
  • Therefore, EPCs could potentially be used for just under half of Moroccan cooking, though this share could be increased with some simple modifications to EPC designs currently available in Morocco (such as adding a steaming rack for couscous).
  • Despite the relatively high carbon-intensity of Morocco’s electricity today, the high energy efficiency of the EPC indicates that carbon emissions could still be reduced when comparing electric cooking to cooking with butane. These emissions reductions would increase as the share of renewables continues to grow.

At a household level, it is likely that electric cooking may increase overall electricity consumption. There is also a risk that due to the progressive tariff scheme in Morocco, some households could be moved up to a higher consumption bracket, and pay more per unit of electricity, therefore a revision to the tariff system might be necessary to promote the transition, and avoid excessive increases in household energy bills.

For rural households that rely on a combination of butane and firewood, EPCs could provide an overall financial saving to monthly cooking costs, unless a battery is required for grid reliability reasons, in which case utility funding or other forms of financial support are likely to be required. The key benefit for these households would be to eliminate their use of firewood for indoor cooking, to increase air quality and improve health.

Rural off-grid households, who collect firewood for free and do not have access to the butane distribution system nor to the electricity grid, would see significant upfront costs for a PV and battery system powering cooking and other appliances, however this could cut their fuelwood consumption by approximately half, bringing some health and socioeconomic benefits and slowing deforestation.

At a national level, if 50% of butane-consuming households were to adopt an EPC and shift half of their cooking to electricity, butane consumption could be reduced by up to 28 000 tonnes potentially leading to significant savings to the public budget.

It is likely that financial support will be required to support households in acquiring this new equipment, particularly in off-grid cases, as well as a careful assessment of existing subsidy and incentive schemes. Support also may be required for developing alternative business models such as on-bill financing and/or bulk procurement.

While the analysis and findings of this project suggest that EPCs are likely to bring significant benefits, many uncertainties remain, and need to be the subject of further research. In particular, much wider field trials and extensive stakeholder engagement are required in order that the different characteristics of Moroccan households are more accurately represented and appropriate mechanisms for deployment of EPCs are identified. 

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The IEA’s role as a co-organiser of this event is facilitated through the International Energy Agency Joint Work Programme with the Kingdom of Morocco to support the transition to a decarbonized energy system, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 811145.