Sep 26, 2018Clean Energy Future

The Solution to Household Pollution in Developing Countries? Natural Gas

The World Health Organization estimates that around four million people die every year in low and middle income countries due to household pollution, which is caused by cooking with solid fuels and kerosene. 

Research suggests that as many as three billion people, or just over 40% of the world’s population, do not have access to clean cooking fuels, meaning that the death toll from household pollution will continue to grow.

Natural gas (or LPG bottled gas) is a clean-burning fuel and provides a reliable, realistic solution to the problem of household air pollution caused by cooking. The environmental impact of using gas is limited in comparison to biomass alternatives. Recently the US National Institute of Health, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a $30 million study across five countries to observe the potential benefits to women and children (the most affected groups) of using LPG for cooking.

Lower-income countries across Africa are attempting to model their own scalable LPG adoption on countries like India and Indonesia, in which natural gas has been a success story. What makes it more of an opportunity is that distributing LPG bottles is more achievable than attempting to build an electricity grid in areas where houses are not connected to electricity. While some have claimed one of the main barriers to distributing gas is cost, research suggests that natural gas is as affordable as biomass, particularly given the rise in prices of fuels like charcoal.

Overall, many are optimistic about the potential natural gas has as a cooking fuel for developing countries attempting to reduce deaths associated with household pollution. To read more on this topic see this study from the World Bank.

We all want to do our part in taking care of the planet. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are helping us to do that more effectively. But what happens when energy from renewables isn’t enough? That’s where natural gas comes in. Natural gas provides a low carbon alternative to traditional fossil fuels and is the best solution we have to lowering household emissions in a cost-effective way.