The combustion of traditional cooking fuels such as dung, charcoal and coal can have far-reaching impacts on air quality, health, and the environment. But understanding the effects of fuel combustion is just one piece of the larger picture when it comes to gauging the impact of a cooking fuel.
A new report and interactive tool, created by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, in partnership with Eastern Research Group, helps capture a more complete picture of the potential impact of a cooking fuel, from its production, processing, and distribution, as well as its use.
Using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach, the report, titled “Comparative Analysis of Fuels for Cooking: Life Cycle Environmental Impacts and Economic and Social Considerations” provides a snapshot of impacts resulting from production of 11 different cooking fuels, including a range of biomass sourced from different sources such as wood, agricultural residue, and bamboo, as well as liquid, and gas options.
The LCA model captures the environmental effects of a product or process from “cradle” (the resources used to create a product) to “grave” (the emissions to air, water, and land). As an example, the figure below shows the types of inputs and outputs for the lifecycle of charcoal briquettes derived from wood. The diagram shows that various inputs at each phase such as raw material, energy, and water can result in harmful byproducts and emissions to air, water and land.
To complement the report, an online tool called Fuel Analysis, Comparison & Integration Tool (FACIT) was developed to enable stakeholders to manually change parameters – such as fuel type, country, and indicators – to compare trade-offs of different cooking fuels and to isolate the steps in fuel production that have the largest impacts. FACIT gives enterprises insights to make improvements along the fuel value chain and allows donors and investors to make more informed investment and project choices. Local and national governments can use FACIT to guide policy decisions, and researchers can use it to identify opportunities to improve fuel technologies and performance. The report and tool include economic and social indicators that provide considerations to weigh when evaluating fuel choices.
To access FACIT, visit cleancookstoves.org/facit. The report and appendices can be accessed under the Resources tab. Please continue to visit the website for updates on upcoming webinars on FACIT.