Our journey to introduce next generation cookstoves in Laos

Stove production centre in Laos prepares to launch production of CC

Vientiane, 29 June 2017 - With support of the EnDev-funded project ‘Market Acceleration for Advanced Clean Cookstoves in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region’, we helped local actors introduce the first ever advanced biomass cookstove in Laos that is significantly cleaner, safer, and more fuel-efficient than traditional alternatives previously available to consumers.

This next generation stove just hit the stores in and around the capital, Vientiane, and the first production centres have all their tooling and production lines in place to increase their weekly output of the new stove to cater to additional provinces in the months to come.

Not only does the stove come in a range of fresh colours that makes it visually appealing to those who are looking for a modern upgrade to their kitchen appliances, but due to the gasification principles employed, the stove is poised to bring health benefits to users by diminishing harmful smoke, and also reduces the amounts of fuelwood required.

This heralds in a new chapter in the clean cooking space in Laos. But it was surely no easy feat to get here:

Throughout 2016, the SNV team in Laos tried out and tested dozens of advanced biomass cookstoves that are available to consumers elsewhere – both from international brand manufactures, as well as household gasifier stoves made in neighbouring Vietnam - against the Tao Dam stove that is ever-so-present in Laos. Stoves were tested both in laboratory settings and user households, and underwent testing with a range of internationally recognised testing protocols – such as the Water Boiling Test (WBT) and Controlled Cooking Tests (CCTs).

Very much to our surprise, we had a hard time finding an advanced stove that would consume less wood than the Tao Dam baseline stove, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a standard we had given ourselves, and would also be convincing in other characteristics acceptable to local cooks!

We subsequently re-grouped and began investing substantial time, money, and efforts (also financed by other donors who generously supported our ambitions in the Lao clean cooking space: the European Union and Blue Moon Fund) on research and development of an entirely new advanced biomass cookstove that can be locally made - building on the existing supply chain for improved cookstoves (ICS).

The ‘Lao Improved Cookstoves Project’ has to-date successfully disseminated over 150,000 improved cookstoves, through 20 production centres and 1,250 retailers. The newly-developed advanced biomass stove is a hybrid that builds on the ICS ceramic bucket stove and introduces natural force gasification principles – a powerful combination that has proven viable and meets our strict criteria in terms of fuel savings, emission reductions (both smoke and greenhouse gas), safety, and user acceptance.

Building on the successes of the ICS project, it is expected that the new clean cookstove will become widely available through the ICS producer and retailer network, and has all the reason to be successful in the vast market segments of fuelwood users in Laos. A Results-based Financing (RBF) scheme under the EnDev project ‘Market Acceleration for Advanced Clean Cookstoves in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region’ will further stimulate the scaling of the availability of the stove.

We could not have come this far without the persistence and tireless support of everyone committed to making Laotian kitchens safer, and at this significant milestone would like to express our highest appreciation to everyone involved. We look forward to continuing our journey together in this new era for clean cooking in Laos.