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Report

State of Clean Cooking Energy Access in India

Insights from the India Residential Energy Survey (IRES 2020)

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

Suggested citation: Mani, Sunil, Shalu Agrawal, Abhishek Jain and Karthik Ganesan. 2021. State of Clean Cooking Energy Access in India: 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 Consumption Survey (IRES) 2020, this study reflects on the current state of clean cooking energy access in India, the progress made over the past decade, persisting gaps, and emerging trends. The study also assesses the barriers that need to be addressed to realise the dream of smoke-free kitchens in India, and proposes various strategies that could help in making LPG affordable for the deserving beneficiaries.

As per the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019, nearly 600,000 deaths in India in 2019 can be attributed to indoor air pollution. Burning of solid fuels to prepare food on simple cook stoves (chulha) in homes exposes families, particularly women and children, to the harmful impacts of smoke and indoor air pollution (IAP). But over the past decade, India has made significant strides in replacing the use of solid fuels with clean cooking options, primarily liquified petroleum gas (LPG). One of the notable efforts has been the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) or Ujjwala scheme in May 2016. Under Ujjwala 1.0, the Government of India distributed more than 80 million LPG connections among socioeconomically poorer households between 2016 and 2019.

Three out of every four Indian homes use LPG as their primary cooking fuel

clean cooking fuels
Source: Authors’ analysis

Key Findings

  • Around 85 per cent of Indian households had access to LPG by March 2020.
  • Inability to afford LPG – either because of the connection cost or the recurring expense on fuel – was the reason most cited by households (by 80 per cent non-users) for not having an LPG connection.
  • The use of LPG as the primary cooking fuel increased from 28.5 per cent in 2011 to 71 per cent in 2020, fuelled by targeted support under PMUY. The progress in LPG penetration is most notable among states which were historically energy-access-deprived.
  • Despite increased LPG access, 38 per cent of Indian homes (mainly rural), stacked LPG with solid fuels, primarily due to high refill prices.

Eastern and central India have the highest levels of solid fuel use and stacking

 levels of solid fuel use and stacking
Source: Authors’ analysis
  • The refill price of ~INR 800 (in July 2021) would require an average Indian household to spend a significant share of their overall monthly expenditure for exclusive LPG use — 9.3 per cent in rural areas and 7.1 per cent in urban areas.

In rural India, most households would need to significantly increase their cooking energy expenditure to transition to exclusive use of LPG

cooking energy expenditure

Source: Authors’ analysis
  • 13 per cent of households did not receive the subsidy for their last LPG refill and 23 per cent did not know if they had received it or not. Subsidy non-receipt and lack of awareness of receipt were more pronounced among PMUY beneficiaries.
  • Absence of home delivery of LPG refills or delayed delivery is another deterrent to regular LPG use. Only half of the rural LPG users get their refills home delivered.
  • About 14 per cent of rural households in India completely rely on biomass, while another 66 per cent collect biomass to supplement clean fuels.

Key Recommendations

  • Facilitate LPG connections for households left out of PMUY by improving the enrolment process and conducting awareness campaigns and targeted beneficiary identification.
  • Provide adequate yet targeted subsidies to make LPG affordable. Three potential approaches could be explored for targeting LPG subsidies:
    • Limit subsidy provision to up to 7–8 LPG refills annually, which is the average consumption of exclusive LPG users in rural and urban India. This could help save 13–15 per cent of the LPG subsidy outlay.
    • Use robust indicators to exclude all households with a high income/wealth status. For instance, the current income-based exclusion limit for LPG subsidy could be lowered from INR 1 million/ year (USD 13,700) to INR 250,000/year (USD 3,425), which would help exclude a large share of households.
    • Employ a consumption-linked subsidy approach, where the historic refill rate (from oil marketing companies [OMCs’] consumer data) could be used to provide higher subsidies to consumers with lower LPG consumption in recent years.
  • Strengthen the LPG distributor network and provide a higher distribution commission for rural areas.
  • Create an opportunity cost for biomass or an opportunity cost of time for those who procure and prepare biomass to meet their cooking energy needs.

Linking the distributor commission with connection density would incentivise home delivery of LPG

home delivery of LPGs
Source: Authors’ illustration
The use of LPG as the primary cooking fuel increased from 28.5 per cent in 2011 to 71 per cent in 2020, fuelled by targeted support under PMUY. The progress in LPG penetration is most notable among states which were historically energy-access-deprived.

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