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Policy Brief

Are Indian Homes Ready for Electric Cooking?

Insights from the India Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020

Shalu Agrawal, Sunil Mani, Karthik Ganesan, and Abhishek Jain
October 2021 | Energy Access

Suggested citation: Agrawal, Shalu, Sunil Mani, Abhishek Jain and Karthik Ganesan. 2021. Are Indian Homes Ready for Electric Cooking?: Insights from the India Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water. 

Overview

Using data from the nationally representative India Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020, this study reflects on the current penetration of electric cooking (eCooking) in India, its usage pattern, its cost effectiveness compared to other clean alternatives, and households’ perception of switching to eCooking from their prevalent cooking fuels. The study also highlights the efforts that could pave the way for the households’ transition to eCooking in the long run.

Key Findings

  • Around five per cent of Indian homes use eCooking devices, with a higher prevalence in urban areas (10.3 per cent) than rural areas (2.7 per cent). Induction cookstoves and rice cookers are the most popular devices, each used by nearly 40 per cent of the eCooking users, followed by microwave ovens.
  • eCooking use is concentrated among wealthier households in India, and around 85 per cent of the eCooking users belong to the top-five wealth deciles.
  • At the state level, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have the highest proportion of eCooking users (17 per cent), followed by Telangana, Kerala, and Assam (more than 10 per cent). However, most northern, western, and eastern states in India have a very low rate of eCooking use.
  • Only half of the eCooking users in India use it on a daily basis, and 93 per cent of them rely on LPG or piped natural gas (PNG) as their primary cooking fuel.
  • Around 60 per cent of the eCooking users perceive that it would be feasible for them to transition to eCooking entirely. However, non-users of eCooking displayed high scepticism, and only one-third of them perceive eCooking as a feasible option to meet all of their cooking needs.

Few Indian households think eCooking would be cheaper than other alternatives

Few Indian households think eCooking would be cheaper than other alternatives

Source: Authors’ analysis

  • With increase in LPG prices, e-Cooking is increasingly becoming cost-effective. At an unsubsidised LPG refill cost of INR 800 (USD 11) per cylinder, eCooking would be operationally cheaper for households paying an electricity tariff of less than INR 6.6 (USD 0.09) per kWh. However, the high upfront investment on buying an eCooking device and compatible utensils (INR 2,500–4,000 or USD 34–52) would act as a barrier for most Indian homes in their transition to eCooking.

Households getting subsidised electricity would typically find eCooking more cost-effective than LPG

Households getting subsidised electricity would typically find eCooking more cost-effective than LPG

Source: Authors’ analysis
Note: As per an experimental study conducted by Banerjee et al. (2016), we assume that the average electricity consumption for using induction cooktop will be 974 kWh/year. Further, the above comparison is only based on the energy costs of the LPG and electricity, and does not consider capital cost, one-time fixed charges for connection and maintenance costs.

Key Recommendations

  • Support research and development of energy efficient, low-cost devices to make eCooking affordable. In parallel, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) should bring fast-growing appliances like rice cookers and induction cookstoves under the standards and labelling programme.
  • Devise financing solutions to stimulate demand for eCooking devices. Discoms with surplus power could collaborate with financial institutions to enable credit-linked adoption.
  • Ensure reliable and quality electricity services to enable households to rely on electricity for cooking without a backup.
  • Conduct in-depth studies to capture the household experience and perception of eCooking under diverse social contexts, which in turn could help guide future policy interventions.
Policy discourse on the role of electricity in India’s clean-cooking journey must also reflect on its implications on future power demand and our ability to service the same through renewable sources.

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