Niti Aayog pushes for methanol as cooking fuel
A plant each would be set up in Bengaluru and Assam for manufacturing methanol cooking stoves based on a technology sourced from Sweden Premier think tank Niti Aayog has proposed a move to transform the way food is prepared in India, reducing the massive import bill and worsening pollution. The Aayog has prepared a comprehensive plan advocating adoption of methanol as the preferred cooking fuel in households as well as commercially. It’s a cleaner fuel and will reduce dependence on imported gas too, said people aware of the matter. A plant each would be set up in Bengaluru and Assam for manufacturing methanol cooking stoves based on a technology sourced from Sweden. Larger stoves for commercial use will be imported till technology is developed locally. Methanol is being produced by the Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers and Assam Petrochemicals. Methanol cooking fuel is being made available in canisters of 1.2 kg, to be priced at 32. Around 18 canisters would be equivalent to a conventional domestic LPG cylinder. A senior government official told ET work is on full swing to introduce methanol-run cooking stoves. “After Assam, we are eyeing Uttar Pradesh and then Maharashtra to provide such stoves in households. Simultaneously, we have tied up with some hotels in Bengaluru to use methanol stoves,” said the official, requesting not to be identified. “Next in line would be big temples, gurdwaras and ashrams where cooking is done on a massive scale daily.” There was a pilot launch of methanol stoves in Assam in October. According to the official, the Bengaluru plant will be set up by a private player while the one in Assam may be government-owned. The Aayog has been aggressively pushing for adoption of methanol as cooking as well as transportation fuel. It estimates that even partial use of methanol could help reduce India’s import bill $100 billion and pollution 40%. In terms of heat value, a 14-kg LPG cylinder is equivalent to about 20 kg of methanol. But estimates show methanol is 30% cheaper and saving on an equivalent quantity of LPG is expected to be Rs 350. In contrast to the present cooking fuel, which is used in liquefied gas form, the methanol fuel will come in vapour form. Unlike LPG, which can explode if it combusts, the methanol canister will burn without explosion and will be safer. India’s LPG consumption stands at nearly 2 million tonnes per month and has been growing consistently in the past 56 months on the back of the government’s push for increasing access to LPG through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. More than 70% of India’s demand is met through imports.