Morocco and IEA co-host workshop on the future of clean cooking

Experts and stakeholders from across Morocco and beyond gathered last week in Rabat for a workshop on “Sustainable Clean Cooking – The outlook for electric cooking in Morocco”. The event, which ran from 4-5 September, was co-hosted by the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency and the International Energy Agency.

Over the course of two days, participants discussed current trends in household cooking in Morocco with the aim of identifying pathways towards cleaner and sustainable solutions.

Morocco has higher levels of access to clean cooking than most African countries through the widespread use of butane. However, people living in rural areas who do not have access to the butane distribution system are more reliant on collected firewood. This not only exacerbates deforestation, but is also detrimental to their health and livelihoods.

In addition, the heavily subsidised production and distribution of butane is a growing burden on Morocco’s budget and trade balance, as a variety of non-intended users take advantage of its low cost. This low cost also dissuades any incentives for energy efficiency improvements.

In this context, the goal of the workshop was to investigate the role that electric cooking has to play in meeting these two challenges: developing clean cooking solutions for rural families who rely on firewood, and reducing dependence on butane as a first step to progressive removal of subsidies.

In his opening remarks, Mr Mohamed Ouhmed, Director of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, affirmed that clean cooking, along with renewable energy generation, is central to Morocco’s clean energy transition. An optimistic future for renewables in Morocco was echoed by Mr Said Mouline, Director General of the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency, who highlighted how the cost of solar PV systems has reached a tipping point. As such, electric cooking supported by PV systems could play a huge role in addressing the clean cooking challenge, while limiting the impact of increased electricity demand on the power system, including on consumer bills. Ms Rebecca Gaghen, Head of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America at the International Energy Agency, also provided opening remarks in which she highlighted the excellent working relationship the IEA has with Morocco, the IEA’s first Association country in Africa, and noted their leadership on providing access to energy.

In order to directly illustrate future possibilities for electric cooking in Morocco, international experts from the Modern Energy Cooking Services (a partnership of experts led by the UK and supported by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program of the World Bank Group) and The Energy Resources Institute of India showcased a range of efficient and affordable electric cooking solutions. Technologies discussed included induction plates and electric pressure cookers connected to the grid or part of off-grid systems.

Participants noted challenges that may be associated with these solutions, including how well they might adapt to Moroccan cooking, gaining social acceptance, impact on consumer bills, and the particular challenges faced by low-income rural populations. Participants also highlighted risks relating to possible impacts on power generation and distribution networks, as well as on local industry.

Building upon on these findings, an in-depth study will help identify which technological solutions would be best suited to Moroccan cooking needs in the context of the country’s power system, including how they would affect household consumption, power bills, and system peak demand.

Based on the study’s results, the deployment of pilot projects involving several dozens of families in various geographic and socio-economic contexts, with robust monitoring and evaluation, would enable further fine-tuning, and identification of the most appropriate business models and policy packages for full scale deployment across the nation and the continent.

“Sustainable Clean Cooking – The outlook for electric cooking in Morocco” was organised within the scope of a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

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